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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Tongues

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Part I - Introduction to Tongues 

 Carol Brooks

Index To All Five Sections

 ON THIS PAGE
The Holy Spirit in The Old and New Testaments

The "Second Blessing"
Is there a special post conversion religious experience available to all believers?

Tongues... The Initial Evidence
Tongues is commonly held to be the litmus test for Spirit baptism.

A Scientific Perspective
 Languages have a sound pattern that can be discerned by linguists, whether or not they know the language

The Controversy and It's Importance
Not everyone shares the opinion that the Pentecostal position on tongues is Biblical nor that the 'Second Blessing' is a blessing.
What is certain is that it is an issue of no small magnitude.


The Holy Spirit in The Old Testament
Anyone who had read the Old Testament will know that God's Spirit has been active on the earth ever since the days of creation when the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1:2). However, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was quite varied, and not usually connected with sin and salvation.  However, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was quite varied  and not usually connected with sin and salvation but gave power and/or authority to whoever the Father had chosen to accomplish a specific task.

    When the temple was being built, God put skill in the hearts of the artisans who helped build it (Exodus 31:3-5 NASB)

    In Deuteronomy 34:9, the Spirit of Wisdom passed from Moses to Joshua. It also fell upon men who had to lead and guide Israel such as the seventy elders (Numbers 11:16-17), various judges of Israel like Gideon (Judges 6:34) and Sampson (Judges 14:6, 15:14). It enabled king David (1 Samuel 16:13) who often had formidable obstacles to overcome. The prophets who were called to proclaim God's word were also enabled by the Spirit. See, for example, Isaiah 61:1 and Ezekiel 2:1-4.

And it was exactly the same case with Jesus' disciples


The Holy Spirit in The New Testament
The Apostles
After His resurrection, the powerless, rudderless disciples would never have managed to take even the first steps towards accomplishing what Jesus had called them to do. However, when God's Holy Spirit was poured out on them on Pentecost, ordinary men and women were transformed into fearless evangelists who laid down their lives for the Gospel.

There are also numerous examples of the Holy Spirit's role in the formation of the new church. For example, the Spirit told Peter that Cornelius' three emissaries were looking for him (Acts 10:19), told the church in Antioch to set aside particular men (Barnabas and Saul) for the work to which they were called (Acts 13:2), and forbade Paul and Timothy to preach in certain areas (Acts 16:6). The Holy Spirit 'chimed in' on a doctrinal matter (Acts 15:28) and testified to Paul of "bonds and afflictions" that awaited him (Acts 20:23)

Other Believers
However, in the New Testament, God's Spirit was not given to the Apostles alone, but was much more universally bestowed. The apostles themselves prayed that those who had received the word of God would also receive the Holy Spirit as in the following two happenings.

    When the Samaritans received the word of God and were baptized, Peter and John went down so that they might receive the Holy Spirit which is exactly what happened after the apostles laid their hands on the people (Acts 8:14-17 NASB)

    The Ephesian disciples had only been baptized into John's baptism but, after Paul head this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:1-6 NASB)

In other words, belief and baptism are not sufficient in themselves - a person has to receive the Holy Spirit as well - for a very simple reason. Once we turn to Christ, the Spirit takes up residence within us helping our weakness and interceding for us (Romans 8:26 NASB) In fact, we can count ourselves as sons of God only if we are led by God's Spirit.

    For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14 NASB)

    But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11 NASB)

That the indwelling Spirit is necessary for salvation is agreed on by most Christians. However, how a Christian receives the Holy Spirit is one of intense debate.


The "Second Blessing"
Pentecostalism, a name obviously derived from Pentecost, emerged in the early 20th century and has rapidly spread across the world. Pentecostals place great emphasis on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10) especially what they call the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" or 'Second Blessing' - a special post conversion religious experience.

Note: Pentecost is the Greek name for the Hebrew Shavuot or Feast of Weeks that came fifty days after First-fruits.
See The Seven Feasts of Israel

Although most Pentecostals and Charismatics teach that all Christians have the Holy Spirit, i.e they are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit when they are converted, there is a 'second level' of blessing, or a deeper work of God's grace available to the believer. This 'Second Blessing' is likened to the special outpouring on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the disciples filling them and empowering them in a unique way. 

The Oxford Assembly Of God in Springfield, Missouri says all Assembly of God churches adhere to the Statement of Fundamental Truths, their 16 non-negotiable tenets of faith. [01]. In fact, as they also state, the 'baptism in the Holy Spirit' is also one of the four "Cardinal Doctrines essential to the church's core mission of reaching the world for Christ" the other three being salvation, divine healing, and Christ's second advent).

Points 7 and 8 are

    the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a special experience following salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times. [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]

    the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is 'speaking in tongues, as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles.

These tenets are elaborated on the Website of The General Council under 16 Fundamental Truths. Under Number 7 - "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit" it reads

    All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry.[02]

In other words, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation but there's plenty more and, without exception, all believers should speak with tongues.

Bible1-Bar

    As an Aside Point 12 says

      divine healing of the sick is a privilege for Christians today and is provided for in Christ's atonement (His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins). [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G] But that is another topic. See Healing in the Atonement

    Point 13 is very inaccurate - dangerously inaccurate. It refers to the Rapture that occurs "prior to His [Jesus'] return to Earth (the second coming)".  Why dangerous?

    See Does The Timing of The Rapture Matter?
    Yes, as a matter of fact, it does... very greatly. If the Pre-Tribulation view is correct, then the Great Tribulation is purely of academic interest to the Christian, and the whole issue is of little consequence. If, however, the Post-Tribulation view is correct, then the issue becomes of vital importance, as it means the Church has yet to enter the most extensive period of intense persecution and tribulation in its entire history.

    So When Are Believers Taken Off The Earth? See The End Of The Age Part IV... The Seventh Trumpet

    But, I digress. 

      Bible1-Bar


    Tongues... The Initial Evidence
    Most of the groups that believe in and teach the doctrine of the "Second Blessing" claim that the initial evidence, or single outward sign of this "Second Blessing" is speaking in other tongues commonly held to be the litmus test for Spirit baptism -
    a belief that is shared by many Charismatics.

      Note: Xenoglossia is speech in a language known to others but not the speaker. However, what you usually hear at these meetings is Glossolalia - strings of meaningless, unintelligible, often ecstatic  speech-like noises. The speaker is thought to have been taken over by the Holy Spirit with no control over his own tongue and is speaking in an unknown mystical language.

    The Atmosphere
    Many who are not familiar with speaking in tongues are often understandably perplexed, disturbed, or flat out incredulous when they first witness this phenomenon. This because it often takes place in an intensely emotional religious atmosphere sometimes called a "tarry meeting", in which seekers agonize and plead with God to send down His Holy Spirit from heaven... again.

    This can be accompanied by fervent even feverish prayer, hymn singing, jumping up and down, hand clapping, and rhythmic chanting of repetitious words and/or phrases, such as "Glory, Hallelujah!" or simply "Jesus!" The frenetic chanting actually seems to whip the congregation into an emotional frenzy and often deteriorates into a bedlam of people yelling and having what looks suspiciously like convulsions - jerking, twitching, falling on the floor and babbling incoherent, unintelligible, repetitive words or phrases.

    The person who supposedly receives the holy Spirit, will start speaking in incoherent, unintelligible, repetitive words or phrases. Jerking, twitching, falling on the floor  and screaming is also quite common.

    Here are a couple of You tube videos of people supposedly getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. The first one is relatively mild, the second far more intense.

    Seeking the Holy Spirit Baptism

     

    Baptized With Blazing Fire:

     

     

    And those manifestations are the same as, or very closely related to Slain In The Spirit

    I would not doubt for a moment that if the exact same manifestations were to occur in some other setting, most Charismatics and Pentecostals would be horrified and get away from the scene as fast and as far as their feet would carry them. The fact that all this occurs in a 'church' setting leads people to believe that God is behind the manifestations.

    Sadly, it often seems that most people who speak in tongues take pride in the fact that they did so, rather than whether what they said was meaningful or edifying.

    Xenoglossia is speech in a language known to others but not the speaker. However, what you usually hear at these meetings is Glossolalia - strings of meaningless, unintelligible, often ecstatic speech-like noises. The speaker is thought to have been taken over by the Holy Spirit with no control over his own tongue and is speaking in an unknown mystical language.

    Sadly, it often seems that most people who speak in tongues take pride in the fact that they did so, rather than whether what they said was meaningful or edifying.


    A Scientific Perspective:
    In 1972, William J. Samarin, a linguist from the University of Toronto, published a thorough assessment of Pentecostal glossolalia that became a classic work on its linguistic characteristics. His assessment was based on a large sample of glossolalia recorded in public and private Christian meetings in Italy, The Netherlands, Jamaica, Canada and the USA over the course of five years; his wide range included the Puerto Ricans of the Bronx, the Snake Handlers of the Appalachians and the Russian Molokan in Los Angeles.

    In summary, languages have a sound pattern that can be discerned by linguists, whether or not they know the language.  IE. the person who is speaking in tongues duplicates the sounds (phonemes) of his or her native language. Thus the sounds made by an American speaker consistently has distinctly different phonemes from a Japanese speaker. On the other hand, there is strong uniformity among the people of a particular ethnicity or group.

    Mr. Samarin came to the conclusion that the sounds tongues speakers make bear no resemblance to any known human language be it extinct or extant. Tongues is not a distinct universal language but is closely connected to the speaker's linguistic experience. 


    The Controversy and It's Importance
    Certainly not everyone shares the opinion that the Pentecostal position on tongues is Biblical. For example the web site of The Protestant Reformed Churches in America very emphatically states that the 'Second Blessing' is not a blessing.

    What must we say about this doctrine by way of evaluation? Should Christians be seeking this second blessing, this baptism with the Holy Spirit? Is there something more for us? We say a resounding no! This is emphatically not something to be sought, because it is not a blessing God has promised His people! This Pentecostal teaching is a deception of the most serious sort! It has confused, misled, and shaken the faith of many. It is to be condemned and rejected, categorically! [03]

    In the absence of unambiguous Scriptural guidance, both sides have come to their respective conclusions based on the historical evidence - particularly events related in the book of Acts, Paul's teaching on tongues in his first letter to the Corinthians, and Mark 16:17. See The Next Two Chapters.

    Wr need to carefully consider these two vastly different points of view because if the Pentecostal position is correct, then although they are saved, thousands of Christians around the globe are missing out on a very special gift that God has planned for all believers. However, if the Pentecostal position is not Biblically accurate, then believers should avoid seeking this "Second Blessing".

    What is certain is that it is an issue of no small magnitude. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are about 279 million Pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians worldwide. (Charismatic Christians belong to non-Pentecostal denominations yet engage in spiritual practices associated with Pentecostalism, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing;  [04]

    As always, when faced with a controversy, we have to turn to the Bible for answers, and ask 'what saith the Scriptures'?

    The problem being that the Scriptures do not make any clear pronouncements regarding the "second blessing" and the "initial evidence doctrine", which makes me wonder up an obvious question - If the 'second blessing' is such an important doctrine, why isn't there even one single clear instruction to seek this blessing in any of the Epistles?

    If there is no evidence to show that tongues was some form of ecstatic or 'angelic' speech in Corinthians, and Paul instructed that everything was to be done decently and in order, the multi million dollar question then becomes where the unintelligible gibberish and wild frenzied movements come from?

    The answer might lie in the fact that neither tongues nor the accompanying manifestation are restricted to born again Christian believers but has been seen throughout history in both pagan and heretical Christian movements without, apparently ANY difference.

    Can any Christian believe for one moment that God has bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit on Christians, non-Christians, cults, and pagans without any discrimination whatsoever. Or is it that most Christians know, but rarely seems to take seriously, is the fact that not every spirit is of God. If you watch certain videos in chapter 5, you will see that the jerking, the screaming, and the collapse, are exactly the same in voodoo rituals, people who have a 'Kundalini Awakening' (as taught in Hinduism), and Pentecostals all over the world.

    which begs the question how did extremely dangerous evil spirits infiltrate the church?

    Latter Rain?
    The upsurge in the number of people who experience this phenomena is often attributed to a genuine revival in the church, while others consider it to be the "latter rain" (Acts 2:17-18, James 5:7) falling on believers. If this is what you believe, I strongly suggest you read The CRUCIAL Timing of The Fulfillment of Joel's Prophecy on THIS Page.


    Continue On To Part II - Tongues in The Gospels and Acts - The Purpose of Tongues  in Acts, Several Factors Unique To Pentecost, What All Three Occurrences of Tongues Speaking Had in Common, Should Modern Believers Speak In Tongues When They Receive The Holy Spirit? Was the Spirit Given Before Pentecost? HERE


    End Notes

    [01] Oxford Assembly of God Church. What We Believe https://www.oxfordag.org/about

    [02] The General Council Of The Assemblies Of God. Our 16 Fundamental Truths https://ag.org/Beliefs/Statement-of-Fundamental-Truths

    [03] Charles J. Terpstra. Pentecostalism's View of the Christian Life. http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_91b.html

    [04] Pew Research Center. Global Christianity A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population. December 19, 2011 https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/


    Also See

    The Prosperity Doctrine and The Word of Faith Movement
    Note: This is a mixed bag. The Prosperity Doctrine is the belief subscribed to by millions of Christians that although Christians should keep one eye on Heaven, God doesn't want His people to wait until then to have the best of everything including good health and material possessions in the here and now. God wants believers to be healthy, wealthy, and happy in this life. This doctrine stems from human greed combined with a self-serving interpretation of certain Scriptural passages. The best thing that can be said is that it is not rooted in the occult.

     However, the Word-Faith movement that has taken this belief to an entirely new level is an entirely different matter. Word of Faith teachers do not refer to faith as a person's belief in - and reliance on - the power of God, but teach that the words themselves have creative "power" thus what a person believes and says determines his future. What is deeply alarming is that the principles of the Word-Faith movement being trumpeted from pulpits across the land, not only stems from the same occult sources as the spiritual movement known as New Thought, but uses exactly the same terminology and techniques. Something that most Christians seem to be blissfully unaware of.

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    Index To Tongues