Tongues – Part Five

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Tongues





We must recognize that Satan has always been a great deceiver and imitator since his fall. The things which Satan uses to tempt us seem, so often, to be good, sincere, and right at the time. If he didn’t make us think that, we certainly wouldn’t be sinning as we do !

Do you think that a young person would take his first dose of drugs if he knew that it would draw him into a world of crime and sickness ? Would an alcoholic take another drink if he knew that that drink would be the one that would ruin his home, his job, and the rest of his life ? Of course not ! But, at the time of the temptation, Satan sincerely tries to make the sin look good ! This is exactly what he did to Eve, in the Garden of Eden. Satan is an imitator and deceiver !

Now, if Satan does these things in person, his ministers also must follow his techniques. Observe how Satan masquerades himself and his ministers as “good, sincere people” –

  1. His people can perform miracles ! Matthew 7:22 That will deceive many people. When demons are cast out, and seemingly super-natural works are done, most people conclude that it can only come from God. Not so, my friends !
  2. His people can do wonderful works in the name of Jesus ! “. . . and in thy name done many wonderful works. . .” Matthew 7:22 Satan’s ministers have long and continuously been at work, doing things in the name of Jesus. When Judas went out with the other disciples, do you think that he did miracles in the name of Satan ? Of course not ! He was a child of the devil, but fooled even the disciples !
  3. Satan (and his ministers) can use Scripture, take it out of context, and twist it. Matthew 4:6 If he thought that he could do it to Jesus, you know that he will try it with Jesus’ followers !

Just consider the evolution of the tongues movement in the last forty years. Consider that Truth does not change. God’s Word does not change. It is eternal. So, when you see religious doctrines changing, be assured that they are wrong. The fraudulent doctrine of tongues (not the true Biblical teaching) began with a few minor denominations and non-denominational groups teaching that babbling of any kind was Biblical tongues. When their churches were challenged by other Christians who actually studied the Bible, they changed their doctrine to state that babbling incoherently was actually a language which spoke to God…a Heavenly language.

When they were confronted with Scripture that the “tongues” of Pentecost were used to speak to people, not God, they had to change their doctrine again. So, they then stated that their tongues-speaking was “the language of angels.” When they were asked to prove that there was any such thing in the Bible, they once again changed their doctrine to state that their tongues speaking was a prayer-language. Once again, when confronted with how tongues were used in the Bible at the day of Pentecost and other times to communicate the Gospel, they divided tongues into several categories, and let each person make their own choice as to which variety of tongues they were speaking. They suggested that it could be a literal language, a heavenly language, the language of angels, or a prayer language. Of course, with such a wide variety of errors to choose from, they could include everyone who was misusing the gift of tongues. This is dishonest, and reveals to anyone who holds the Truth to be precious that the “tongues movement” is wrong. Truth does not Change. God’s Word is Truth. Therefore, what the Bible teaches about tongues does NOT change over time. Yet, the “tongues movement” including men who are highly respected by unknowing pastors and their congregations today—including Robert Tilton, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and others—have changed their definition of what “tongues” really is a number of times. That, in itself should reveal the character of their work. God’s Word does not change !

After the scolding that Paul sent in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, for misusing the gift of tongues, the Christians there must have wondered how they could go so far from the Bible. They must have sent word to Paul, asking how some “good, sincere people” could lead and entire church into a way that was only benefiting Satan. Paul answered them in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 –

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Obviously, no upper room could hold “a multitude…out of every nation under heaven” which was in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. The Biblical account required that the disciples left the upper room where they were praying, and went to the streets to preach to those who were there. The use of tongues-speaking (language-speaking) was OUTSIDE the place of worship.

The legitimate use of tongues, is either to communicate God’s Word in a
language other than your own, or translate God’s Word from one language to
another so that others might understand the Word being spoken.

In many churches where large numbers of lost people are present, the Spirit may utilize the gifts He has given to speak to those who do not understand the native language of the preacher, or teacher. So, in effect, they will translate what the speaker is saying into the language of the lost person. In other cases, I have seen services where after the teacher or pastor had finished a message, a brother with the gift came and spoke in another language that more effectively communicated with those who did not understand the tongue, or language he had used. Of course, when that happened, the people who were present who only understood the language of the original teacher or pastor no longer could follow what the brother speaking in tongues was saying. So, the Spirit gave guidance to the interpreter, so that they, too could understand properly. In some cases, only an interpreter is necessary, while in others, both a speaking in tongues AND an interpreter are required.

This author has been in services where the preacher has had three translators communicating the Gospel, and from evidence given after the services, there have been people of other languages who were given the message from God’s Word through individuals in the congregation who were led by the Spirit to speak to them in their own tongue.


If a person studies another language, or is brought up in a bi-lingual environment, the languages which are naturally spoken are not “gifts” from the Holy Spirit. They are learned.

The true gift of the Spirit is the ability to communicate the Gospel in another language with which you are NOT familiar, nor have studied. It is a gift, not a merited, or learned ability.

If a Believer had studied a language, he would know whether he had the ability, or not before the need to use it. However, with a spiritual gift, he does not know it until he is required to use it, or has been specifically informed by the Spirit that it is available to him. It is in the yieldedness to the Holy Spirit that the Believer knows whether or not he has the gift.

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

      If we can understand whether or not we have other spiritual gifts, then we may be able to use the same discernment in judging whether we have the gift of tongues. For an example, a person may have a very strong leading of the Spirit of God to lay his hands on a sick brother or sister and pray over them in the Name of Jesus, asking for healing. It is by hearing and yielding to that strong leading of the Spirit of God that leads the person to do something which reveals the gift. 
If a Believer is has a strong desire to communicate to someone else about the Lord Jesus, and knows it is a fervent desire created by the Lord, he should turn to that person—even knowing that they speak in a language unknown to him—and upon his mouth, and begin to communicate. Either the person who you were praying for gets healed, or he does not. And, either the words you speak will be understood, or they will not. The most important thing to do is simply comply with the Divine command and direction of the Lord. He will flow through you, and use any gifts He has given you at that time.

For an example, the first time we have possible healing miracles done through the Apostle Paul was in Iconium. But, they only came after Paul, submissive to the Spirit of God, preached the Word to them. That act of submission almost automatically brought the following wonders and signs done by the Spirit.

Acts 14:3 “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

     There is a sequence by which these things operate. First comes the preaching of the Word by those yielded to the Lord. (This pattern is often used by the Lord who required the multitudes to hear His Word before He did the miracle of multiplying the fishes and the loaves to feed them). Then, both because of the past submission to the Spirit, and because of their on-going submission, God brings the added blessings of miracles which are often as a direct result of spiritual gifts. (Surely, no one would argue whether the gift of speaking in a language one had never studied is a miracle). 
The Holy Spirit does not make a person do things against the Believer’s own will. As close to God as the prophets were, God still gave them the ability to make their own decisions, either to obey, or disobey.

1 Corinthians 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

      The Believer’s act of obedience in following the burden of the Spirit to reach lost souls is what results in God being able to speak the Word through him in another language. In most cases, he will recognize the very strong burden of the Spirit for that soul (or those souls), and will have the desire (communicated by the Spirit) to speak to them. 

Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

     This tells us that God creates the will, or desire, within us. Then, it is up to us to yield ourselves to His will. That is when we discover whether this gift of languages has been given to us, or not. If we find that it is a gift we do not have, we may conclude that either we don’t need it (because God wants us to exercise a different gift), or because it will be given later if we are faithful in using what we have now. 
However, the lack of the gift of tongues in no manner indicates that a Believer is less spiritual than another Believer who has the gift. Each one of us have spiritual gifts that are given according to the wisdom of the Spirit. To question His rightness in doing anything simply does not make good sense.

Tongues – Part Four

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Tongues




“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” —Mark 16:15

 The true Biblical gift of speaking in tongues (languages) is given so the Church can more effectively fulfill the Great Commission. There was never any intent to make tongues a focal point in the worship service. When the Church at Corinth made it so, they were sharply rebuked and given specific guidelines. They were re-educated about the people to whom tongues (languages) were directed—the lost, in 1 Corinthians 14:22—

“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. “

 From the very first time the Bible mentions tongues, they were shown to be communicating the Gospel to the lost. On the Day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke with tongues, that gift of languages allowed their lost listeners in Jerusalem to hear the Gospel in the language of birth.

The idea of “speaking in an unknown tongue” is simply an idea brought about because men will not accept the authority of God’s Word. Now, it is true that the “experience” of speaking in an ‘unknown tongue” for some might be exciting and thrilling; but, it is nothing more than that, and causes Christians who are weak in the faith to place more trust in the preacher who told them about “the Baptism” than in the authority of the Bible.

That is a frightening, but characteristic pattern in the unknown tongues movement. It seems that as people get deeper and deeper into regular “experiences,” they place more and more authority on the preacher’s interpretation and their own personal pleasure and experiences rather than relying upon the Holy Spirit. But look at the Word of God . . . with an open heart and an open mind. If you do, you will discover that the real Spirit-filled life is much more blessed, exciting, and lasting than a counterfeit emotional experience !

Many preachers have attempted to connect speaking in an unknown tongue with what they refer to as the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Honest Bible study will clarify the truth. First of all, the legitimate Spirit-given gift of speaking in tongues is a gift given to Believers according to the specific plan for an individual by the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians Chapter 12 deals with the fact that each of the spiritual gifts are personally given by Him, and no one is given all of them, and not everyone receives the same gift. So, we then understand that there are some who do NOT have the gift of speaking in tongues. Should they spend their lives seeking that gift when the Spirit wisely chose to give them a different gift ?

Biblically, not everyone who is baptized into Christ (whether by water or by Spirit, or both) speaks in tongues. In the case of the Philippian jailer, we have people being truly saved, changed, and rejoicing, but not speaking in tongues. Acts 16:31-34 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

If speaking in tongues (or other languages) was a gift which all people receive when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, then I Corinthians 12 is wrong…and that cannot be. That section of Scripture teaches that the gifts are not given equally to all people, but according to the discernment and will of the Spirit of God.

Of course, the other issue, which we will not deal with in this course, is the misunderstanding of what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit actually is. What took place on Pentecost was primarily the FILLING of the Holy Spirit, as seen by the Scripture itself. Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” But, that is another issue where many preachers from the West have failed to do their homework, and have merely parroted what someone else told them. It is not one which we will deal with in this course.

There isn’t nearly so much in the Bible concerning the gift of speaking in tongues as there is about God’s forgiveness, sanctification, godliness, faith, hope, healing, prayer, etc. There are only two major areas dealing with the subject, and one of those (1 Corinthians 14) deals with the immature church’s improper use of the gift. It is truly unfortunate that something which occupies so little attention in the Bible is receiving the majority of attention in many churches ! If we honestly compare the Biblical gift of speaking in tongues (from the Greek word, meaning, ‘literal language’), with that which is called “speaking in tongues” today, we would find that there is little, or no area of similarity !

Acts 2:1-17 reveals that the tongues given to the disciples at Pentecost were literal languages, understood by the people without the aid of an interpreter. 1 Corinthians 14:27 points out the need for an interpreter at the church, because the languages being spoken were, perhaps primitive origins of German, Italian, English, French, etc. But an interpreter was needed here because the people understood only Greek ! Keep in mind, though, that the gift was still present to speak in literal foreign languages. They were not babbling some unintelligible gibberish. The Greeks did have a word which describes the babbling that today’s churches call, “speaking in an unknown tongue” but it is never used anywhere in the Bible and therefore cannot apply to the gift of tongues. So, we are left to conclude that when the Bible speaks about tongues, it always means, a literal language.

Language professors at some of the great universities in the United States have investigated the “tongues-movement” extensively and have agreed conclusively that whatever is being spoken in many of those churches, it is certainly not a literal language ! Exhaustive investigations were carried out where professors who were fluent in many languages attended church meetings. Now, these investigations were great opportunities for the Church to reach these lost university professors for Christ. Instead, because what the professors found was that there were no real languages being spoken, they went away more convinced than ever that Christians were basing their faith on nonsense. These churches which used fraudulent unknown tongues had solidified the rejection of Christ by those investigators.

On the other hand, it should be noted that there have been some cases where a literal language was spoken by the gift of tongues, but these incidents were few and rare.

We must keep in mind that Satan has always been a great imitator. The Bible tells us that he desired to “be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). So, whatever Jesus does, he tries to copy, in his own evil and deceptive manner. One report, coming from New York City, tells of a woman who spoke in tongues . . . In the Hebrew language. A Hebrew scholar was present at the meeting, and noted that the so-called interpreter at the church did not translate correctly one single word. The scholar stated that the woman was blaspheming God in the Hebrew language, while the interpreter was saying that it was praise ! How often does this happen in tongues-speaking churches, and no ones it ? Would YOU know if a person, claiming to speak in tongues, was blaspheming or praising God if you didn’t understand what they were saying. Most would not. It was later determined that the woman who was speaking Hebrew and blaspheming God was an illiterate house-cleaner who never learned any language except English, and that she was demon-possessed.

If you have examined Acts, Chapter Two, carefully and honestly, you will have found nothing similar to today’s so-called, “speaking in unknown tongues.” If you observe the account in 1 Corinthians 14, however, you will note several similarities. None of them deal with the actual speaking in tongues; for you must remember that today’s “unknown” tongue is not at all the same as Corinth’s literal languages, which was the genuine gift of tongues.

Speaking in an unknown tongue fails to meet the Biblical test of communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. Even if that was the only evidence (which it is not) that this was an erroneous doctrine, it would be wrong to hold it.


Let’s look at one of the typical tongues-speaking church services. Generally, there is enthusiasm from the time you walk in the doors. But, how much is developed by a sincere love for the Lord, and how much comes from a desire for mere fleshly emotional excitement varies from church to church. The service may open with songs of praise, a word of welcome, and prayer. After a usually short message there is prayer, and an invitation. However, many times, a message is not finished before someone interrupts with their own version of “tongues.” That person might stand up, holding hands up in the air, and begin to shake violently.

Attention immediately is drawn away from the Word of God, and on to a human being. Now, that is sin ! Even if that person remains in his or her seat (which is rare; since many will run around, fall in the aisle, or continue screaming until all attention is upon them) the damage has been done, and people have been distracted from God’s Holy Word. That is nothing less than sin. We have enough attention today in church placed upon people ! We need more – much more – attention placed upon the Lord. Now, I don’t care how godly these folks are that scream and draw attention from the Word are. I don’t care how much they might claim that they are under the control of the Holy Spirit – any time that attention is drawn away from the Son of God, it is NOT of God, it is of Satan ! Such distraction and confusion within the church is one great similarity between many of today’s charismatic churches, and the Corinth church. Paul condemns it in the church in Corinth, and the Word of God condemns it today ! 1 Corinthians 14:30-33, 40 makes this crystal clear !

We are called, as a Church—Christ’s Body—to exalt Him, and not ourselves. Colossians 1:18 “And He is the head of the body, the Church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. John the Baptist said it well—John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Again, we are reminded in 1 Peter 4:11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Distractions which pull attention away from the teaching and preaching of the Word are not from God, and pastors are authorized to rebuke such behaviors.

Similarities exist between many of today’s “unknown tongues-speaking” churches, and the church at Corinth. Notice the reprimand for women to keep silence in the church (14:34). Evidently, women must have been the great “tongues-speakers” then, as they are today ! Many of these churches will often brag about the number of people that they see leave the church in disgust, and to try and ease their own consciences, they blame it on the godly way that they claim to live. However, Paul gives the reason for those who walk off from the church in 1 Cor. 14:23

“If, therefore, the whole church come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad ?”

 Yes, there are similarities between many of the US churches in the charismatic movement and the church at Corinth. But all of them are because they both were immature churches ! There is, however, no similarity at all between the gift of tongues at Corinth, and the “unknown tongues” of today.It would be a natural reaction for a person to be frightened away by such behavior. But, my friend, listen. Most people think that all churches are alike (most lost people, that is), and if they are turned away by the tongues churches because of unscriptural behavior, chances are, they will not listen to the Gospel any more. This writer knows of people who were so baffled and repulsed by such emotional and unscriptural displays that they based their rejection of Christ on that ! Oh, precious souls are going to Hell because some people won’t stop their foolishness ! Accept what the Bible says about “speaking in tongues,” and stop trusting in the words of human beings . . . no matter how righteous they might appear !

The harm done is manifold. Outsiders are repulsed from Christ (although they may come in great numbers to such a church for the entertainment). The Spirit of God is grieved because sin has been accepted as truth, and the church failed to correct it. Does that effect the prayers of the saints ? (Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.) If the Lord’s anger stirred against a church which would be satisfied with anything less than the real work of His Spirit ? How could He be satisfied with His Bride accepting a substitute ?

Tongues – Part Three

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Tongues




4. It is better to say five words with your understanding than 10,000 in a language that neither you, nor others understand.
     (14:19) Let’s keep in mind, now, the purpose of the real gift of languages – to communicate the love of Christ. If I speak in a language about Jesus, and His marvelous love; and express it exactly the way the Scripture states it; if my audience does not understand the language I am speaking, the message is fruitless. The Gospel was to be understood by unbelievers; and, tongues – the genuine gift – was one means utilized by the Spirit of God to reach them.

     Take any Sunday, of any week – including Easter and Christmas – and see if there are more lost people inside or outside the church. Obviously, the vast majority of lost people will not be within the church. See the Scriptures –

“Tongues are a sign…to them that believe not.”   1 Corinthians 14:22 

       These are the people that the gift of tongues was given to reach. Why, then, do churches persist in imitating the mistake, and sin, of the church at Corinth ? Why don’t those who have a genuine Biblical gift of tongues speak those languages in offices, warehouses, food stores, shops, public schools, etc. ? It is simple. Most of them know that no one would understand them…and their failure to communicate the Gospel in another language to people of that other language would be evidence that they did not have the Biblical gift of tongues. 
     Imagine a Christian with the gift of tongues called out to a new tribe, a new region where he or she has never gone. The language of the people is unknown to them. But, by the gift of the Spirit, they are enabled to communicate the Gospel to those people, even though they have never studied their language. THAT is how the Gospel grew around the world so quickly in the hundred years following the resurrection of our Savior. The Believers depended upon the gifts and moved throughout the world—with no need to go to language school.

     Although what I am about to share with you is my own personal experience, I have heard of this happening to others, as well. In the 1980’s I was on business in Peru, South America. I did not know Spanish, so I depended upon the knowledge of English with my associates in Peru had. One morning, outside the city of Miraflores, my associates had sent a car to bring me to a meeting. The driver of the car was the nephew of a very important political leader in the government. I spoke with him in English, but he did not seem to understand what I was saying. As I looked at his face, the Spirit revealed that he was greatly troubled, and needed to know the Lord. I opened by mouth, and began to speak to him about the Lord’s love and care for him, and how Jesus had suffered, and knew more than anyone the pain of suffering. As I continued, I realized that what was coming out of my mouth was not English, but Spanish. When I was through, I looked at him, and tears rolled down his face, and he indicated that he would give his heart to the Lord Jesus. When we got to our meeting, a business associate confronted me, and said, “I thought you didn’t know Spanish.” “I didn’t,” I told him. “Well, our friend said that spoke to him fluently in Spanish of his need to repent to God and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.”

     Our Lord did not command the lost to come to the churches; but He did command His Church to go to the people ! “Go ye into all the world…” (Matthew 28:19,20). As they go, the gifts of the Spirit go also, and are used as they were meant to be used. When these gifts remain strictly within the confines of the church, they become self-seeking, self-glorifying, unscriptural, and certainly not according to the purpose for which the Lord gave them.

5. Lost people have enough excuses for not accepting Christ, so why give them reasons to think that Christians are crazy, too ?

1 Corinthians 14:23 – “They will say that ye are mad.”

     By clean living, holy living, and taking a firm stand upon God’s word, people will accuse Christians of being “different,” or crazy (while secretly respecting and admiring them in their hearts). That type of criticism is unjust; but, for a Christian who is close to the Lord, it must be expected. 

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12.

      But, to babble and jabber unintelligible gibberish, label it as “speaking in an unknown tongue,” will give the lost reason to conclude that a Christian may well be on his way to the asylum. That does not bring glory to the Lord ! If we do good, people might criticize, but they do so hypocritically, knowing that we are superior to them. But is we do that which neither God nor man can approve of, we can expect only just criticism and righteous persecution. 
     In many cases where lost people (and even saved folks) visited an unknown tongues-movement church they returned to their homes terrified of the events which took place. They did not have their understanding increased, nor did they in any way come closer to the Lord. As a matter of fact, many have rejected the message of all churches because of the frightening experience they may have had in a church which spoke in and unscriptural unknown-tongue. You cannot ignore the fact that thousands of people have been turned away from accepting Jesus because they tied in the heresy of the “Unknown Tongues-Movement” with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t ignore the facts ! The “Tongues-Movement” with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t ignore the facts ! The “Tongues-Movement” is hurting, not helping souls !

6. Much emotionalism is simply acted out or worked up, and is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
     Lest there be some misunderstanding soul who would accuse this writer of being against an honest show of emotions, let me state unequivocally that I firmly believe that a Christian, above all people, ought to be emotional. When the Lord enters into a life, he saves not only the soul, the body and the spirit; but he also enters into every part of that person’s life, including the emotions. For an individual to suppress his joy, or hide his Spirit-given love for the lost, or stifle the tears of compassion for all souls, would be sin !


     Having stated my position concerning emotions, let me go further. Without question, many people are worked-up into an emotional frenzy by skillful manipulators of men’s souls. Many so-called “Spirit-baptisms” are nothing more than the result of nerves so strung-out emotionally, that they respond to every suggestion by these so-called preachers. To say that of such behavior is of the Lord is deceitful and unscriptural !

     A Christian does not lose control of his senses when under the control of the Holy Spirit, although this is what many churches say. The Lord has given to each man the ability to make personal decisions. That is why, when Adam and Eve were created, the Lord God did not make them as machines or computers who do everything they are told to do, and have no choice of their own. God wants us to submit to Him because we love Him, not because we have to. If you have children, you know how much it means when your little son or daughter would come to you, put his arms around your neck, and say, “I love you.” If you forced your child to say the same words, they would be meaningless. Much in the same manner, God wants us to submit to His will by our own choice and desire, not because we come under and “inescapable baptism” which forces its will upon us.

     Hundreds of churches pass off and falsely act out a display, of worked up emotionalism as the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Some of the most disgraceful and morbid displays which have occurred in some churches have happened when so-called Christians come under what they call “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” During this time, some have rolled in spasms on the floor. Some have screamed horribly, as though dying. Some have lost control of their organs. Some have shaken violently, and been convulsive. There are a variety of things that people blame on the Holy Spirit; but be assured, whatever spirit these people came under was not the Holy Spirit of God ! He is not the author of such confusion ! See 1 Corinthians 14:33 for this.

     Some will be angered by the Truth, suggesting that this study is designed to discredit the Holy Spirit. No such thing ! They say, “My Aunt So-and-so had such and experience, and if anybody was saved, she was !” Others say, “Old Mr. Jones was a real godly man, and he spoke in and unknown tongue all the time.” The story could go on and on. But the issue here is not what someone says that they experienced, but whether you will accept the authority of the Bible over and above the testimony of anyone else.

     Look at the Book. You do not lose control of yourself under the power of God. You are given a choice to determine whether you will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. You are given a choice to determine whether you will obey the Holy Spirit or not. You can choose to yield to the Holy Spirit, or grieve Him through disobedience (Eph. 4:30). This ought to show that you have the option, to obey or disobey, and that you maintain complete control over your senses.

     The widely circulated notion, however, is that “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you cannot help but speak in tongues, uncontrollably.” Whatever spirit brings about the shameful displays which turn sinners away from a loving God, is clearly not God’s Holy Spirit ! “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” 14:32

7. Women, the principle leaders in the tongues-movements, are commanded to maintain silence in the churches. 14:33-34
     Many are the excuses for disobeying this clear command of God. Preachers who claim to be preaching the full Gospel, are often the guiltiest in leaving 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 out of their Gospel. Woe be unto any who would take away from the Word of God !

     But, in spite of their logic and reasonings, this command does appear in the context of tongue-speaking. Evidently, the heresy at that time centered around women, much the way that it does today. Certainly, a woman has an important ministry to perform for the Lord. This writer does not intend to take away from the role of women in their Scriptural blessedness. Jesus recognized their dedication and usefulness in bringing souls to Him. They are compassionate – many times, more so than a man ! They care about little children – often more than a man will express. But, in spite of their blessedness, the Bible states that they are not to have positions in the church which will be over a man. Nor are they to speak in the church . . as we see in the context of speaking in tongues. How can the Scriptures be ignored as they are ? If a person eliminates one passage of Scripture, they will son find themselves leaving out others, and still others !

     A large number of preachers in the “unknown tongue” churches are women. An even larger percentage of people who speak in “unknown tongues” are women. To enforce 1 Corinthians 14:34, would be to deal the death-blow to the Charismatic Movement as we know it today !

     Who initiates “unknown tongues” in many non-charismatic churches ? It is often times the elder’s wife, the deacon’s wife, or the preacher’s wife ! Enforce the Word of God, and the present error will cease in a short time !

     To summarize the answer to the original question, let us say that in the Bible there is nowhere any record of, endorsement of, or possibility of speaking in “an unknown tongue” as supposedly given by the Holy Spirit. There is obviously the command to be yielded to the Spirit of God, and use spiritual gifts—INCLUDING speaking and interpreting languages—to glorify our Savior. That includes the use of the true Biblical gift of speaking in actual languages, or tongues. What we generally see and hear about happening within many churches who have been influenced by Western show-business churches is non-Biblical, and nonsensical, and has done much to turn precious souls away from knowing Christ as Savior !

Tongues – Part Two

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Tongues





Turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14.
     Notice the term, “unknown tongue,” as used in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 & 27. Do you see anything different in appearance about the word, “unknown” ? In most Bibles, the word “unknown” appears in different type-set, or in italics. The reason for this is the fact that the word “unknown” does not appear in the Greek manuscripts, from which New Testament was translated. In fact, the term “unknown tongues” does not find itself anywhere in these Greek manuscripts !

     The word “unknown” found its way into the English King James Bible by human translators who had no idea that there would ever be any misunderstanding concerning the term, as there is today. The King James Bible was translated at a time when understanding about spiritual gifts, like many other important Biblical issues, had been dead for many years. People were just getting back to Bible study, having been deprived for many years by the Roman Catholic Church (which kept the Scriptures in Latin, not the language of the people). Consequently, there was a very real probability that the translators of the King James Bible themselves had never experienced the gift of tongues, nor had known others who had exercised it. How could they explain this amazing spiritual gift when it was almost unknown to their limited theological world at the time ? They did not understand, so they added the word, “unknown” to express that lack of knowledge of these tongues.

     Obviously, the King James Translators wanted it to be understood that the term “unknown” does not appear in the original manuscripts – so, they were careful to put it in italics. Furthermore, in the time of King James, the word “tongues” always referred to “a literal language.” Both of these facts are ignored in almost every church that claims to speak in “unknown tongues.”


     The true gift of tongues is explained (in 1 Corinthians 12:1-10), along with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit to have a distinct purpose: To communicate God’s Plan for Salvation ! It is interesting to observe that many of the people who admire the false babbling which some consider, “speaking in and unknown tongue,” are the same ones who get very upset at any preacher who tries to dazzle his congregation with his large, “higher-than-thou” vocabulary. They rightly object, on the grounds that, although the preacher might be revealing his higher education, he is revealing also, his lack of wisdom, because the people do not understand what he is trying to get across. He would have been better of to speak in terms and language that was easily understood by the people.

     In the same light, this writer might get behind the pulpit and preach in German. . . to an English-speaking congregation in Covington, Georgia. The people might conclude that the preacher studied well, or perhaps, spend some time in Germany. But, if they came to hear the Word of God, their time would have been wasted because they didn’t understand what the preacher said ! It would have been better, rather than magnify his talents, for the preacher to speak in English from the start.

     The Christians at Corinth, as all Christians, were given gifts by the Holy Spirit which they were to use to proclaim the Word of God (Acts 1:8). Now, these Christians, like most people, wanted to be recognized as being great, while doing the least amount of work to accomplish that standing. The Lord had given to some of them the gift of the Spirit to speak in foreign languages (i.e., “tongues”); but, instead of using them where they would do the most good and communicating the Gospel to the people who understood that language, they spoke these languages within the local church which didn’t comprehend anything they said. Indeed, to them, such talk was an “unknown language.” We must as ourselves is this what the Holy Spirit intended, or desired that this gift accomplish ?

     When given a gift as this, the recipient should use it as the Holy Spirit wants the gift to be used, and where the Holy Spirit wants it used ! In the case of “tongues,” or languages, they were to be used to communicate Christ to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22), and were to be used where the unbelievers were – and that was generally not in church ! So, to their Greek-speaking brothers and sisters in Christ, these folks with the gift of tongues, were accomplishing nothing but turning attention to themselves and their gifts, not to Christ ! Why can’t thinking Christians see that the same is true in supposedly “tongues-speaking churches” today ?

     Let’s exalt the Giver of the gifts, the Precious Lord Jesus, and not the gifts themselves ! Let’s use the genuine gift of “speaking in a tongue, or language” where that language is understood, and not in the church, where the individual – not the Lord Jesus – receives the glory. Yes, this writer believes that there is such a gift. The Bible clearly states it ! But it is not the confusing and emotionally-chilling babbling that many try to pass off as “speaking in tongues.”

     Speaking in “tongues” is not speaking in an “unknown tongue,” because the word “unknown” does not really appear in the Greek Manuscripts ! The gift of tongues, is an understandable language, used to communicate the Gospel.


     There is a right way and a wrong way to use the genuine gift of “tongues,” or foreign languages. Paul goes to great lengths to impress upon the Christians at Corinth the proper way in which to use the true gift of the Spirit. Now, understand that this church did have the gift of speaking in “tongues” (foreign languages), but they didn’t use the gift as the Holy Spirit meant for it to be used. Paul gives reasons for his disapproval of the Corinthian mis-use of “tongues” or languages, in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14.

1. Paul continually de-emphasizes “speaking in tongues.”   Why would he do this, if the gift deserved all the attention that the so-called Charismatic churches give it ? Simply because, it is not the greatest gift, or the most effective gift, or the most glorifying gift ! On several occasions, in Chapter 14, Paul tries to persuade the Corinthians to place more emphasis on another gift – the gift of prophecy: 

“Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (14:1)

“I would that ye all spoke with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied. . .” (14:5)

     Now, these were very immature Christians. They had spiritual gifts as every believer has from the moment he is saved, but they were not mature enough to use them in the proper manner, yet. Paul set this fact straight from the beginning of his letter to Corinth:

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes, in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for to this time ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-2

      Why, the, do some churches insist upon imitating a great blunder by an immature church ? Do they get a thrill out of being immature ? Is there pleasure in doing something wrong for a Christian ? If they are immature or weak, or worldly, the answer is “yes.” Here in the United States I have seen a Dad or a Mom on the floor in front of a Christmas tree, playing with the children’s toys before they are given to the children. Yes, they sometimes enjoy the thrills of childishness.

     The improper use of this gift, especially when it is done for self-glory, is immature ! These people at Corinth, although given every chance to grow spiritually, found it more enjoyable to remain immature and satisfy their fleshly attitudes. Thus, instead of taking a mature attitude to “go into all the world” with their gift of tongues, they found it more gratifying to impress other Christians with their gift, and be the center of attention within their local church.

     What a waste ! These believers, have the true gift of tongues could have been great missionaries throughout the world, using their gifts to preach and teach the Gospel. Paul senses their stubbornness, in part, due to their immaturity, and offers to them a suggestion which would bring some help to this spiritually undernourished church.

     Speaking in a foreign language would bring nothing but confusion, and a diversion of attention away from Jesus and onto the stray sheep. So he suggest asking for the gift of prophecy, which would be beneficial to the entire church ! The needed to get more faith…enough to launch off onto foreign shores and villages to preach the Gospel. Tongues would not increase their faith, but prophecy would. Paul contends that tongues should not be emphasized; and particularly where a church is so immature that they refuse to use them in another land where the Holy Spirit had intended them to be used !

     Now, this writer has spoken to some leaders in the “Tongues-Movement” who claim vehemently that they do not put and emphasis on tongues, but that they proclaim the full Gospel, with all parts equally exalted. Yet, their churches advertise that they speak in tongues above everything else. Usually, the gift of healing comes in as a close second in emphasis.

     They spend more time in church advocating, defending, and propagating this “experience” than for any other single thing. Look at the newspaper, and see what they advertise. Listen on the radio, and hear what they preach. But, most of all, listen to their regular members, and hear what they continually bring up. Tongues ! Tongues ! You cannot ignore the facts ! Most of these churches spend the majority of their time, resources, and energy focusing upon tongues ! Paul says that this is a wrong emphasis, even to people who had the true gift of the Spirit to speak in other languages.

     Many of them use speaking in tongues as a test of spirituality against others. They will ask, “Do YOU speak in tongues ?” If the person being questions responds in the negative, they are told that in order to be close to God one MUST speak in tongues. If we were to assume that the person who is doing the questioning had the true gift of tongues, they would still be wrong in their conclusion about the other person. Not every has been given the same gift. The Bible says, in 1 Corinthians 12:11, But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. Tongues is just ONE of the many gifts which the Holy Spirit gives out. Not every saved person has it, and it does not make the person without tongues less spiritual for NOT having it. In fact, it is possible that a person who was NOT given the gift of tongues by the Spirit might have more spiritual gifts than a person who had tongues.

2. Speaking in any tongue that is unknown to the user, is just as good as not speaking at all.
     In fact, it is likely to bring harm. (14:5) What good would it be for you, if this book was written in Hebrew ? Unless you could read and understand Hebrew, it would be worthless. What if your Bible was written in a foreign language that you didn’t understand (Praise God, we can read it in English !)….would it be of any value to you ? 1 Corinthians 14:5 is not speaking of prayer, as we do it every day. Nor is it speaking to God as we should. What is implied here, is that since no one else understands the literal language in your midst, only God can. But what does that do for the church ? Nothing !

3. Even to “pray in the spirit” is useless if it is in an “unknown tongue.”
     (14:14) We have all heard the term “praying in the spirit” used to define what a person who “quietly” speaks in tongues is doing. But look as verse 14 more carefully. It does not say that the Holy Spirit is praying for us, making intercession for us as if we were in a right relationship with God. It doesn’t even imply that the Holy Spirit of God has any part in this type of praying language that is unknown to the user. Instead, it is well clarified in that “my spirit prayeth.” Oh, yes. The old man of the flesh. . . . The carnal nature that made the Corinthian Christians who had the gift of tongues want to be the center of attention in the church ! Yes, that old nature is still present in every Christian, and by self-will would do things like praying without understanding.

     So, when one jabbers and babbles without reasoning and understanding, it is “my spirit that prayeth.” Let’s not blame the precious Holy Spirit of God for ignorance and immaturity. He is our Teacher ! (1 John 2:27) Did you ever have a teacher in school that couldn’t explain thing well ? Maybe that teacher just wasn’t able to make himself understood. You suffered for his inability. But the Holy Spirit has no problem as our human teachers did. He is capable and willing to teach. But to teach, He must make Himself understood….. And that is not done by praying in and “unknown tongue.”

Tongues – Part One

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Tongues





     To some church-going people, speaking in tongues is an unacceptable behavior. They have rationalized that since they know some people whose tongues speaking is merely a rehearsed and artificial act, that all tongues speaking is fraudulent. That is like saying that because we know of some people who don’t know how to make bread, that there is no such thing as real bread.

     There is little that is mysterious about what the Bible calls, “tongues.” In fact, it is so clear when we study the Greek language (the language in which the New Testament was written), that it is surprising that so many people have chosen to ignore its’ obvious definition.

     Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word “glossa” (Strong’s # 1100), is used to describe that physical part of the anatomy called the tongue. Mark 7:33 “And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue” [1100]; Mark 7:35 “And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue [1100] was loosed, and he spake plain.”

     It is loosely used to describe the noise which comes from the tongue. This is applied to ANY noise. It is used to describe the noise of a person’s native language. Acts 2:11 “Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues [1100] the wonderful works of God.”

     It is used to describe a variety of different earthly languages which God uses to communicate the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues [1100]; to another the interpretation of tongues [1100]: 1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues <1100>.

     These earthly languages may be unknown to someone who was not raised in that language, or has never studied it. 1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue <1100>.

     The Bible specifically validates the very real and useful gift of tongues. This gift was provided for the Believer, as all gifts were, to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, by either winning souls or edifying the Body of Christ, the Church.

     Validation of the genuine gift of the Holy Spirit is made in several ways.

1. First, the Holy Spirit gave the gift.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: I Corinthians 12:7-10.

2. Next, God authorized tongues as one of the official works of the Church.

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. I Corinthians 12:28.

  3. The apostles and the early church utilized tongues.

     Paul, for an example of the apostles.
               I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all. 1 Corinthians 14:18.

                    ~ Examples in the early church.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

4. God encourages the use of tongues when used in a Biblical manner.

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39
 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:5

     While the Bible makes this strong case, and the Church throughout her history has provided legitimate and verifiable evidence that speaking in tongues in of great value, those who take the position of opposing tongues have one valid point. That is, there is a tremendous amount of fraudulent tongue-speaking in the world today which has hindered the work of the Church and created a lack of credibility among unbelievers because of what they see.

     This study is designed to address this issue, and I trust it will help you see the Biblical definition, procedure, and applications for the use of tongues.

Tongues – Preface

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Tongues




     The subject has been controversial for only the past hundred years. Prior to that, the heresy which exists today about the works of the Spirit was not so evident and popular as in these Last Days. But, we have been warned in God’s Word what to expect.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,”   2 Timothy 3:1-3

     The self-centered characteristic which desires to please ‘self’ before the Lord is what has made the Last Days a fertile time for the devil to unleash many false self-pleasing doctrines upon the Church. 

     In the following lessons, you should look up EVERY noted Scripture. You should read the CONTEXT, and study other relevant Scriptures related to the ones noted. Without the Word of God, we have only human experience to base our faith upon, and that is so very, very frail, often leading to false conclusions. So, be faithful to study these verses.

     The references to the “unknown tongues movement” usually relate to information from American churches. However, because of the fervor in which these churches have desired to propagate their doctrines, it also can be seen in the same movement throughout the world. Most of the notations regarding their doctrines are so commonly known, we have omitted making footnotes for them.

     You will note that there is a distinct and clear difference made in this study between “unknown tongues,” and “tongues.” You should be careful to make that distinction in your own mind, or the facts could become confusing. The Bible carefully tells us the origin of both.

     You are not required to agree with the conclusions of this course (although I suspect that after seeing what the Word says, you will agree). However, you will be required to know the Scriptures and reasons behind the conclusions.

     The subject matter is obviously controversial, and there have been many pastors and Believers who have been taught incompletely their entire lives, so it is difficult for them to see anything other than what they have already accepted as truth. However, by laying out a good foundation from God’s Word, pastors and Bible teachers should be able to see the Spirit of God work in the hearts of the most stubborn in their congregations to bring them to a more Christ-exalting—and less self-exalting—form of worship and service.

Dr. Ed J MacWilliams