THE GIFT OF TONGUES

Pastor Floyd Koenig

Acts 2:1-13

INTRODUCTION

Interest in the gift of tongues has had phenomenal growth in the past few years. Multitudes now claim to possess this gift.

As always the children of God "prove all things" by careful study of God’s Word (I Thess. 5:21).

I. THE BIBLE RECORD OF TONGUES

A. The gift of tongues is mentioned in only three books of the New Testament.

1. A sign that the apostles’ message was of the Lord was that they "shall speak with new tongues" (Mk. 16:17-20).

2. When the Lord empowered the first church in Jerusalem, they spoke "with other tongues"(Acts 2:1-13).

3. When the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentile believers in Caesarea, Philippi, they spoke with tongues (10:45-46).

4. When the believers were baptized in Ephesus, they spoke with tongues (19:6).

5. Paul lists different kinds of tongues as one of the sign gifts that were given to the church at Corinth (I Cor. 12:1-14:40).

B. It is interesting to note how few books of Scripture mention tongues. 1. Out of 21 New Testament epistles in which salvation, Christian joy, spiritual growth, ministerial qualifications, and the work of God’s Spirit are dealt with, yet in only one is tongues mentioned.

2. The one time when tongues was mentioned in an epistle, it was in rebuke for the elevation and misuse of this gift.

II. THE NATURE OF TONGUES

A. The gift of tongues was the supernatural ability to speak in a language that one had not acquired by study.

B. There is no reason to believe that this language was ever anything but an existing human language.

1. The disciples spoke in the native languages of the many foreign Jews present in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:8, 11).

2. Paul warned the Corinthians that the unlearned could not understand tongues (I Cor. 14:16, 23).

- These statements would be meaningless if tongues were not human languages already known by some.

3. Paul quotes an Old Testament prophecy concerning the purpose of tongues (v. 21).

- This prophecy deals with human language thus revealing again the nature of tongues at Corinth.

C. The modern concept of tongues has originated from pagan worship which from early times until the present has been characterized by some form of ecstatic speech. 1. In many of the cults there are those who have made claims of having the gift of a heavenly tongue.

2. Christians have always viewed these activities as demonic (Isa. 8:19-20).

III. THE PURPOSE OF TONGUES

A. Our Lord makes it very clear that tongues were for a sign (Mk. 16:17-20).

B. Paul informed the Corinthian church that tongues were for a sign.

1. When the Corinthian church began to use tongues as a means of self-glorification they were told that they needed to mature and to learn that tongues were to be used as a sign (I Cor. 14:20-22).

2. In verse 21, Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 as proof that tongues were a sign-gift.

3. In Isaiah 28, we find Isaiah rebuking the elders of Judah for their sin.

4. They did not repent, but rather reviled Isaiah’s preaching as being below their intellectual level (vv. 9-10).

5. Isaiah then gives the prophecy that God will speak to them by the foreign tongues of the invading Assyrian army.

6. From this Paul concludes that tongues are for a sign.

C. Tongues were a sign of confirmation for at least three different Bible truths. 1. Tongues confirmed the gospel to be authentic (Heb. 2:3-4).

- We see this illustrated in Acts 2:1-21.

2. Tongues were a sign confirming the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God.

a. Tongues acted as a sign to confirm the fact the God had granted repentance to the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48).

b. This sign was even received as proof by the Jerusalem church that Gentiles could be saved and added to the church (Acts 11:1-18).

3. Tongues were a sign of coming judgment.

a. Isaiah prophesied that because Isreal would not heed the warning of the prophets to turn from their idolatry, they would hear their enemies speak to them in a strange and rough language (Isa. 28:11).

b. Many believe that tongues were a warning to Isreal of the coming Roman invasion in 70 AD which ended Israel’s existence as a nation for nearly nineteen hundred years.

IV. THE REGULATION OF TONGUES

The disorders that occurred at Corinth caused Paul to lay down some rules. These regulations must be followed by all who claim to be spiritual (I Cor. 14:37-38).

A. Everything must be done in an orderly manner – I Cor. 14:32-33, 40.

B. Tongues are not to be sought – I Cor. 12:18.

1. The church as a whole is to desire that the best gifts (those which edify) may be found within her membership (I Cor. 12:31).

2. Tongues were one of the least gifts (I Cor. 14:5).

C. Tongues must be interpreted – I Cor. 14:28.

D. Only one person at a time may speak – I Cor. 14:27, 30.

E. Only three may speak in tongues at any one service – I Cor. 14:27.

F. Women may not speak in the church – I Cor. 14:34-35.

G. Tongues must not be forbidden – I Cor. 14:39.

1. Paul was afraid that his teaching on the inferiority of tongues as a means of church edification would cause it to be forbidden.

2. This Scripture of course would not apply after tongues had ceased.

3. Baptist churches have every right to forbid the modern imitation of this gift.

V. THE CEASING OF TONGUES

A. We are told that tongues would cease (I Cor. 13:8).

B. This gift ceased when the Scriptures were completed.

VI. TONGUES TODAY

A. The modern tongues movement contradicts the Bible teaching concerning the nature, purpose, duration, and regulation of tongues; therefore, it is not of God.

- God does not contradict His Word (I Cor. 14:37; Mt. 5:17-18). B. The modern tongues experience may have various explanations. 1. It may be fake.

2. It may be psychologically induced.

a. Contrary to the New Testament, modern tongues advocates teach people how to speak in tongues.

b. Much of it appears to be a form of self-hypnosis in which the brain is short circuited so to speak..

3. It may be of demonic inspiration.

a. There are many accounts of demons speaking through those possessed.

b. Christians have always viewed the ecstatic speech of pagans as being demonic.

c. When one considers some of the doctrines and evil fruit that have come out of Pentecostalism it becomes obvious that demons are indeed at work (Isa. 8:19).
 


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