Tongues, Part 3

By Phillip G. Kayser · Acts 2:4-14, Part 3 · 2005-7-3

Four or five weeks ago we saw what a beautiful symbolism is found in these two chapters as God establishes a new Israel. Israel was constituted as a nation at Mount Sinai on the first Pentecost celebration. God made His vows to Israel, and Israel said "I do" to their vows. That is why a marriage covenant is read every Pentecost. On that first Pentecost the law was spoken in 70 languages of the world, just as God's Word was spoken in all the languages of the world in Acts 2. Just as the Israel that was established under Moses was established with twelve princes and 70 elders, and the gift of prophecy, the twelve apostles of Luke 9 and the seventy elders of Luke 10 were present in Acts chapter 2 in order to form a new leadership together with a new body of prophets that were gifted in Acts 2.

We saw that 120 men was the minimum number needed to establish a new Jewish community; that 10 was the minimum to establish a synagogue. So there were enough men in chapter 1:15 to establish twelve synagogues, and since the apostles were promised in the last Lord's Table that they would inherit a kingdom and that they would be princes judging the twelve tribes of Israel, God made sure that there were Jews from every tribe of Israel. This is why very literally Jesus took away the kingdom from the Old Israel and said that He would give it to a nation bearing the fruits of the kingdom (Matthew 21:43). Not to nations plural. Matthew 21:43 says, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it." That nation was established here, just as in the time of the Babylonian exile the kingdom was taken away from the people in the land and the tiny remnant of believers in exile was constituted a new nation and a new temple. And there are other parallels.

Just as there was a Theophany of the Holy Spirit on Mount Sinai with wind, lightning and fire, there is a theophany here with wind and fire. But unlike Mount Sinai, the tongues of this chapter would continue. Verse 4 says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues…" There was something unique about this day: the tongues showed God's rejection of Israel, His coming judgment of Israel in 70 AD with the Gentile nations, and the beginning of the times of the Gentiles. And tongues was beautiful symbolism of that. Commentators point out that the word "began" in verse 4 implies that it continued after Pentecost. This was not a one-time only event that is utterly unconnected to 1 Corinthians as many charismatics claim. Many charismatics claim that this was a miracle of hearing, not the miracle of speech found in 1 Corinthians. But traditional Reformed exegesis insists that these tongues were repeated all the way through those early yers.

And so today we are going to spend one more day on the subject of tongues using the inspired commentary in 1 Corinthians 14. And let me review what we have covered so far. So far we have demonstrated that the tongues in Acts 2 is not a gift of hearing, but is a gift of speech. We have also seen that it was a true language, not simply noises. We have seen third that the tongues in this chapter is identical to the tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 – something which most charismatics disagree with. I then gave fifteen proofs that the tongues in 1 Corinthians was a true language. Contrary to the claims of many, we saw that there were multiple purposes for tongues. It's not a prayer language that only the Holy Spirit and the Father can understand. No. Acts 2 shows its use in teaching. 1 Corinthians 14 (which I'm going to have you turn to) not only shows people praying and singing in other languages, but shows them prophesying, communicating knowledge and simply teaching in another language with someone translating. It was simply the ability to speak in one of the languages of the world. We also dealt with the objections from 1 Corinthians 13:1,2 and several other objections.

Last week we went through 1 Corinthians 14 verse by verse and showed how every verse demonstrates that the tongues speaker understood exactly what he was saying. It was not mindless gibberish. It was a true miracle where people suddenly understood another language and were able to pray, teach, give announcements or do whatever they were used to doing in another language. And I documented several examples of people in missions who have either had this ability temporarily or permanently. Actually, I have had friends who could suddenly speak fluently in a language that they did not know, and they were able to ask for directions and do other mundane things in that language, including teaching. Those examples, if they are credible (and remember we have said that the Scripture alone is innerant, not our experience – but if they are credible, they), resemble true Biblical tongues perfectly. But what goes on in charismatic churches does not. The Spirit heightens rationality; He does not bypass the mind.

We also saw that both Acts and Corinthians show the primary purpose of tongues to be to address unbelievers evangelistically. We saw that in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19. We also saw that in verse 23. I think that the evangelistic purpose of tongues in Acts 2 is pretty obvious, but look at verse 23. Paul said, "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers." It was a miracle not for believers, but for unbelievers. That was it's primary purpose. But that was not the primary use that the Corinthians were putting it to. They were showing off in the worship services by speaking in various languages even though no one in the congregation spoke those languages. It had no purpose other than to highlight their gift. Paul said that this showing off had to stop. Secondly, they had to stop speaking to foreigners who happened to be in the worship service without translating for the Greek speaking members.

Paul did affirm that speaking in multiple languages did have its place in worship (as a secondary purpose) if they were careful to follow nine rules. And I think as I go through these rules you will recognize that whether you believe that tongues continues to exist or not, the rules have a practical application to what we do in worship. And especially as we focus on internationnal ministries during this next school year we are going to want to keep these rules in mind.

The rules for tongues in the church. Just because God has given you the ability to speak in Swahili or some other language, does not give you permission to speak that language in the church (whether you have a miraculous or non-miraculous ability to so speak). Such tongues ability would be welcomed if we had a foreigner who did not understand English in our midst. But even then, translation would be needed to make sure that the church itself understood what was being said. While speaking in a foreign language would be a tremendous asset while engaging in personal evangelism, it could be easily abused (by way of showing off) within a church that did not speak that language. So the following rules were laid down by Paul.

In the church worship service we are to do only that which is profitable to the whole congregation (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:6,9,12,16,17,19,26). This is not the time to show off your ability to speak a foreign language, nor is it a time to engage in private devotions. While it is obvious to those who know several languages that some languages can convey ideas that others do not, and while it would be tempting to edify myself by being able to communicate beautifully in another language (see 1 Cor. 14:4), Paul consistently argues that self-edification is not enough reason to speak in a foreign language.

The first rule is, In the church worship service we are to do only that which is profitable to the whole congregation. You can see that spelled out in chapter 12:7, in chapter 14 verses 6,9,12,16,17,19 and 26. Look at 12:7. It says, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." No breaking down into subgroups: this is a corporate worship service. Chapter 14:12 says, "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel." Etc., etc.

Paul does not deny that praying in another language can edify the tongues speaker. This whole chapter shows that the tongues speaker knows what he is saying, and if you look at 14:4 it says, "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself..." But that's not enough to justify its use. Paul says that if the whole congregation is not benefited, keep quiet. Well, if that rule was kept, most of what purports to be tongues in the modern church would cease immediately. And I think we can see the application for miraculous tongues, but let's examine this principle a bit further.

I think this principle also rules out anything in worship that smacks of private devotions or that divides the congregation into parts. For example, it is quite common to have times of silent confession of sin where the whole congregation is quiet for two minutes while we each confess our sins privately. In fact, we have done it in our congregation. But is it Biblical? I don't think so. One of the Reformed principles of worship is that everything is corporate in the worship service. I guess you could argue that it's corporate silence and everyone is equally benefiting. But look at verse 16. "Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks" [he's implying that this is something that you are supposed to be able to do: "how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks],

since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Now obviously that was addressed to praying in another language, but it is also clear that a silent prayer does not edify the congregation either because no one can say an "Amen" of agreement with your silent prayer. The Quakers used to sometimes spend an entire service being silent in prayer. We are going to be seeing later in the book of Acts that prayer in the worship service was always with the voice of one and the whole congregation entered into agreement with that one voice.

And by the way, just as a side note, verse 16 also rules out minds that are wandering during prayer. When others pray, the congregation needs to enter into that prayer with "Amens." And of course, that is commanded over and over in the Bible. Psalm 106:48 commands, "let all the people say, "Amen!"" So if you really want to be Biblical, you need to have an audible "Amen" of agreement (man, woman, and child). It is a corporate agreement. And that command is repeated over and over again in the Scripture. It is emphasizing the corporate nature of everything that is done.

This rule would also rule out churches where everyone turns around in their pew and prays with a group of five. I have no problem with doing that in prayer assemblies. But in the formal worship service, Paul wants there to be a formal and united focus on one prayer, one sermon, one song that is sung, etc.

So this would rule out Korean style prayers where everybody prays their own prayer in a loud voice at the same time. I don't know if you have ever been in a Korean service, but it's quite an amazing thing. Nobody knows what the other is praying because they are all praying out loud at the same time.

Never speak in another language in the congregation unless there is a person in that congregation who understands that language. This is a logical deduction from the following evidence. Paul says that it is never right to "be speaking into the air" (1 Cor. 14:9). Even with a translator, you would be speaking into the air while speaking the foreign language if no one in the congregation knew the foreign language. But if there was a foreigner and an interpreter, someone would at all times be understanding what is said. Paul says that every word we utter must be understood by someone (1 Cor. 14:16-17 with 26b). If "no one understands him" except for God (1 Cor. 14:2), it is pointless to even pray in the foreign language and Paul commands us, "let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God" (1 Cor. 14:28). Speaking to oneself is not mumbling quietly, but is speaking in one's head silently ("keep silent") where only God can hear. God's goal is for people to always be able to "say ‘Amen' to your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?" Finally, 1 Corinthians 14:6 says that speaking in tongues does not profit unless the tongues communicates "either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching". This indicates that tongues must always communicate something to someone.

Second rule, Never speak in another language in the congregation unless there is a person in that congregation who understands that language. That's the whole point of talking in a foreign language – it is to benefit foreigners. Verse 11 makes clear that it is the congregation who needs an interpreter, not the foreigner. But if a foreigner is not present, verse 2 indicates that you are simply speaking to God while you are speaking and not to men. That is forbidden by the rest of the chapter. In verse 9 Paul forbids what he calls "speaking into the air." Even with a translator, you would be speaking into the air while speaking the foreign language if no one in the congregation knew the foreign language. But if there was a foreigner and an interpreter, someone would at all times be spoken to. Look at verse 28: "But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God" (1 Cor. 14:28). Some people use this verse to justify mumbling quietly in tongues, but mumbling under your breath is not keeping quiet. It is speaking. It's speaking softly, but it is still speaking. And this verse says that you should be silently talking in your head to God. We've already seen that verse 16 indicates that there should always be someone who can say "Amen" to a prayer. And in the outline you can see other proofs that without a foreigner in the congregation, there is no point in speaking in a foreign language.

Are there any practical ramifications for us who don't have this miraculous gift? Well, this would rule out Travis praying in Hebrew in church and following it with a translation if there is no one in church who speaks Hebrew. Sometimes you will have songs that have an entire verse that no one understands. That too is inappropriate. Now let me make a clarification: I don't think the explanation of Hebrew terms in a sermon or in a song violates this principle because it is trying to understand the meaning of Scripture. The names of God would be another example that would not violate this principle. But prolonged uses of another language (whether you translate or not) can only be justified if there is someone in the congregation who knows that language. You might even say, who only knows it, but I'm not sure the text goes that far.

No more than two or three people are allowed to speak in any given service (1 Cor. 14:27,29). This rule for speaking in foreign languages also applied to prophecy (1 Cor. 14:29) and to other areas of worship (1 Cor. 14:26 – see below). This kept the worship service formal and prevented it from turning into a circus. Some have objected that 1 Corinthians 14:26 contradicts this rule since it allows all to speak in tongues and all to prophecy. But Paul is rebuking them in that verse[1] for violating the rule that few should lead. Paul is quite clear that "if anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret" (1 Cor. 14:27). This means that churches that take verse 26 to mean that all can bring a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation and an interpretation are unbiblical. Having the ability does not give the right to speak in church.

Rule, 3: No more than two or three people are allowed to speak in tongues in any given service, (1 Cor. 14:27,29). This rule alone would cramp the style of 99% of charismatic churches, but it is so clear. Look at verse 27. "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret." Have you ever been in charismatic services where virtually everyone is praying at the top of their lungs in what they consider to be tongues? It's bedlam. I sometimes can hardly concentrate on my own thinking when I am praying with some of the pastors here in town because they are all praying in tongues. It violates this rule. Some have objected that 1 Corinthians 14:26 contradicts this rule because they claim that it allows absolutely everyone to speak in tongues and all to prophecy. Look at verse 26. I have heard Charismatics appeal to this a number of times.

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

But I want you to notice that this is not a command. That's the way they take it. They take it as an instruction of what you should be doing. But its not a command. It's a statement of what is going on. And Paul's purpose for writing this epistle was to correct what was going on.

Let's break the verse down. "How is it then brethren," is Paul's way of saying, "What's going on here?!" The next part of the verse is Paul basically rebuking them in that verse[2] for violating the rule that few should lead. He is saying, "What is going on here!? Everyone thinks he can bring his psalm, his teaching, his tongue and his revelation?! That is causing disorder and the church is not being edified." Paul is quite clear in the very next verse that the practice in verse 26 needs correcting. He says , "if anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret" (1 Cor. 14:27). This means that churches that take verse 26 as normative rather than descriptive are unbiblical. Paul wants worship services led, not just happening as the Spirit supposedly moves people. We are going to be seeing that the Spirit always does things in order. But for this point it's important to know that having the ability does not give the right to speak in church.

And if you look at verse 26 you will see that this rebuke applies equally to other parts of the worship service as it does to the speaking in tongues. Worship is not the time when everyone gets involved in the act. Each of these people wanted to have a teaching in church, yet James 3:1 is very clear, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." It's not the place for everyone to teach. Verse 26 also indicates that the worship service is not the place for everyone to ask that their favorite psalm to be sung. It's not the place for people to stand up and say, "I think the Lord has given me a revelation." In verse 29 Paul says that two or three prophets are to speak.

Why this emphasis on very few leaders? It is because the worship service is the place of our formal entrance before the king where everything is orchestrated. It's not that God is aginst impromptu worship on our own, or asking for favorite songs in our family devotions. But there is a huge difference between public formal worship and private worship. You might liken it to the relationship of a king and his child. In private informal occasions the king can cuddle with his children, they can talk to daddy and have a great old time. But at the public ceremonies, the king's children have to stand when others stand, sit when others sit, be silent unless asked to respond, and everything is led by the advisors. Why? Because it's a formal public ceremony. Well, the same is true of worship. You will look in vain in the Old or the New Testaments for worship services that resemble the informal back and forth banter that goes on in informal charismatic churches. If you read in Ezra and Nehemiah you will see people gathered solemnly before God to hear the reading and preaching of the Word from the puplit, trembling at God's rebukes and joyful at his blessings. Yes they sang with resounding voices because of how great their God was, but they wouldn't have dared to interrupt. They certainly would not have dared to turn the rebuke of verse 26 into a mandate. That would rob people of a sense of the majesty of God. It's a philosophy of worship. And by the way, John Frame totally misinterprets that verse. It's a fatal flaw in his exegesis.

Only one person may speak at a time - "each in turn" (1 Cor. 14:27,31). It doesn't matter how important you think what you have to say might be, wait till others are finished speaking. And even if someone else interrupts what you are saying, stop speaking for the sake of church etiquette (1 Cor. 14:30). This rules out not only the common practice of everyone "speaking in tongues" at the same time in many charismatic churches, but it also rules out the Korean practice of everyone praying at the same time in their own language. Only one person may speak at a time.

Rule four, Only one person may speak at a time (1 Cor. 14:27,31). Verse 27 says, "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three" [We've already dealt with that, but then he says,] "each in turn…." This again rules out what happens in most charismatic churches where everyone is speaking at the same time. It also rules out the Korean worship services that I mentioned earlier where everyone prays at the same time. But what is true of tongues, is true of other things as well. Look at verses 29-31. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent." Notice that they can't talk at the same time, even if both of them have a revelation from God. Verse 31: "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged." Notice that they had to do it one at a time. By the way, charismatics use this to overthrow the rule for prophecy in verse 29. They say, "See? Every person can prophesy in the worship service." But the "all" refers to the "two or three prophets" who had been selected to speak in verse 29. All of them may prophecy. Otherwise you have a contradiction.

No one is ever to speak in tongues (a foreign language) unless there is an interpreter (1 Cor. 14:12-17,27,28), since what cannot be understood is of no value to anyone (1 Cor. 14:6-12,15-17,19,20,28) and may lead to a bad testimony to unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:11,23).

The next part of verse 27 gives the fifth rule: "let one interpret." So, rule number 5 is, No one is ever to speak in tongues (a foreign language) unless there is an interpreter (and the outline gives several more Scriptures to prove that - 1 Cor. 14:12-17,27,28), since what cannot be understood is of no value to anyone (verse 6 says, "what shall I profit you" and I give several other Scriptures - 1 Cor. 14:6-12,15-17,19,20,28); and the last part of the rule says "and may lead to a bad testimony to unbelievers" (1 Cor. 14:11,23). This is another rule that is repeated so much in this chapter and which is so clear that it mystifies me that so many charismatic churches violate it. I have run across a few that have sought to have interpreters for every single example of tongues, but they are rare birds indeed. Tom told me about a professor who visited one of those few churches in town, and they had mikes up for tongues speakers and interpreters. And so he decided to get up and quote a verse from the Greek New Testament. The interpreter got up and gave his interpretation of what had just been said. The professor said that he was wrong in his interpretation – that he had just quoted the Bible in Greek. But at least they were trying. So once again, 99% of so-called tongues that goes on in most churches violates this rule. It makes you question whether it truly is of the Spirit, because the Spirit would not move people to violate His own rules. By the way, we have already seen that with real tongues, the tongues speaker would know right off the bat if the translator was doing a good job, because he would know what he was saying.

Are there any other applications that we can make? Yes. If we have Hebrew words in songs, they must have a translation right there in the text so that everyone knows what is being sung. And the only reason I can see for having them in songs anyway, is if the words are Hebrew or Greek names that we should know anyway.

Women must not speak in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Paul is not ambiguous in the least. He says, "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in church."[3] This rules out tongues, interpretation of tongues or anything else that is done "solo."

Rule six is one that close to 100% of charismatic churches flunk out on. Women must not speak in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Paul is not ambiguous in the least. Look at verses 34-35. He says:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in church.[4]

This rules out tongues, interpretation of tongues or anything else that is done "solo." Gordon Fee in his commentary is embarrassed by this verse. He can't get around it. So he says that it can't possibly be Scripture. It must have been inserted by a scribe. And we would say, "No. It is an inspired rule of God."

But let's dig deeper into this. Why would Paul rule out women speaking in tongues and prophesying in church? It's not because they are not able to do so. It's clear from Acts that the ability to speak in tongues and to prophesy was given to both men and women. Acts 2 was outside the church – this is inside the church. When Peter interprets what was happening at Pentecost, he says in Acts 2:17-18,

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions; your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.

Acts 21:9 makes it clear that Philip's daughters prophesied outside the church. Can women teach? Well obviously. Older women are commanded to teach younger women in Titus 2. But they teach them at their homes. The reason all of these things were forbidden inside the church is that speaking solo always implies leadership. Even speaking in prayer implies leadership if it is done solo. In fact, we call it leading in prayer, right? That's why Acts 1 indicates that while the women were present, the men were doing the praying. That's why 1 Timothy 2 calls upon the males to pray in the worship service and the women to keep silent during the prayer and teaching. 1 Timothy 2 is just as clear as this passage is.

So let me repeat that: speaking solo in the worship service always implies leadership. This is why in many Reformed churches only the pastor and elders are allowed to pray, read Scripture, lead the singing or preach. I disagree with restricting it that far. We believe that the fathers of each family are shepherds in their own right and are the lowest level of leadership in the church. So we do have men lead in prayer just as they did in the synagogues. But it is a leadership function. Again, this highlights the formality of the worship service. This is not a time when children and women speak out. In fact, verses 34-35 indicates that they shouldn't even be asking questions, since questioning itself can be a form of guiding a group. And what applies to women applies equally to the children. Children should not talk out solo or on their own initiative in the service. Unison prayer, or unison responsive reading is allowed because that is following leadership, not leading.

Now this has made some people outside of this church quite angry, but my response is that they will have to take it up with Paul. There is no getting around the strong language in verses 34-35. So if you are a woman or a child who likes to volunteer information in the worship service, read these verses again. There is no getting around their meaning. That is why Gordon Fee's commentary says that these are words that must have been inserted by a chauvinist and that they are not part of Scripture. He doesn't cite any proof. The verses are in all the Greek manuscripts. He just doesn't like them. I think that is a dangerous, dangerous position to be in. So don't get mad at me. I'm just reporting the rules. But this is yet another rule that shows how far away from Scripture the charismatic churches are in their use of tongues.

"Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40). People who claim that they can't help their excesses since the Spirit is moving them to the strange behavior, need to realize that Paul holds individuals responsible to control their gifts (1 Cor. 14:32) and holds leader responsible for maintaining order.

Rule 7 can be taken verbatim from verse 40 "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40). The Greek word for decently (eujschmo/nwß) basically means to not be weird. Here are a couple dictionary definitions. "in a becoming manner, decently, with propriety" (Louw & Nida). Another dictionary says, "Having a good schema could mean appearance, outward bearing, correct moral conduct, or high social class. [in other words, let's be classy. The dictionary goes on:] The emphasis is sometimes on decent behavior, sometimes on order and beauty, sometimes on respectability and nobility. " (Spicq) So the first word mandates a respectable, dignified worship service. Wow! Does that ever fly in the face of what you see in most charismatic worship services.

The second word simply means careful order and arrangement. It's the word that we get taxonomy from. One dictionary says, "an arranging, order: —good discipline(1), order(7), orderly manner(1). (NAS) Another dictionary has, "an arrangement of things in sequence, fixed succession…a state of good order, order, proper procedure." In other words, the church service is never to be spontaneous like charismatics like it. They say, "Well, we are just following the Spirit as He leads." And my response is, "No you're not. The Spirit has already led by writing this Scripture, and this Scripture says that there needs to be a carefully planned out structure and order to the worship service. You are not following the Spirit's leading."

Then people respond that they can't help their excesses since the Spirit is strongly moving them to the strange behavior. But I point out to them that Paul holds individuals responsible to control their gifts. And that is true of even the prophets that existed in the first century. Verse 32 says, "the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets." All of Paul's rules presuppose that tongues speakers can control their tongues. They speak when they need to speak and can keep silent when they need to keep silent. And the elders are responsible to make sure that these rules are followed. They need to make sure that things are done decently and in order.

But a question might come up, who defines decently and who defines orderly? And I would say, "God does." In the Scriptures God has laid down exactly what He wants in a worship service and He tells us not to add to or take away from His instructions. Deuteronomy 12:31-32 says:

You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way… Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

We call this the regulative principle of worship. God defines decency and He defines order.

Everyone who has the gift of tongues should be willing to be used (and should be used) in some capacity or another, whether inside or outside the church worship (1 Cor. 12:21).

Eighth rule: Everyone who has the gift of tongues should be willing to be used (and should be used) in some capacity or another, whether inside or outside the church worship. 1 Corinthians 12:21 says, "And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."" God would not have given the miraculous ability to speak a foreign language and to understand what he or she is saying if He didn't intend for that gift to be used. This chapter has already made clear that the gift of tongues doesn't have to made use of in the church. In fact, Paul has indicated that the primary function for tongues was to enable a person to be more effective in witnessing.

But whether inside of the church or outside of the church, we want the people of this congregation to have their gifts well used. Don't hide your talent under a bushel. One of the rules that I have set for my family was that every one of our children – even when they were quite young, donated about four to six hours a week in service to the church. And this had nothing to do with my being a pastor. I would do it even if I wasn't a pastor. We wanted to teach them early what all of God's people are supposed to be doing. Some clean the church offices and cook; others have been on the music team. There are a boatload of items that we have tried to involve our children in to teach them young that ministry in the church is not an option. I want them to do that the rest of their lives. I would encourage you to do the same. This church would become an entirely different church – in fact, it's impact would become incredible if every person in this congregation donated four to six hours of their week to serving the church. Do it as a family. Don't just send your children. Minister as a family. Lead by example.

If all the above rules are kept, "do not forbid to speak with tongues" (1 Cor. 14:39). We would welcome a person who could translate for us to so translate our sermons, prayers and other portions of the sermon when foreigners are present. That would be a tremendous blessing.

And that leads naturally to the last rule. If all the above rules are kept, "do not forbid to speak with tongues" (1 Cor. 14:39). We would welcome a person who could translate for us to so translate my sermons, prayers and other portions of the service when foreigners are present. That would be a tremendous blessing.

Let me offer up a few concluding comments. You might still wonder, "Why is all this important?" Well, it is important for a number of reasons: First, when charismatics accuse you of violating the Scripture, you can gently show them that it is they who are out of accord with the Bible on apostleship, prophecy, and tongues – those three. Charismatics are right on a lot of things, but not on those three.

And when they accuse you of limiting God's hand by denying tongues, you can say, "I don't deny tongues. I know missionaries who have been given true tongues. We delight in God's gift of tongues. But what the charismatics experience is not true tongues." In fact, virtually every religion in the world has experiences like charismatic tongues speaking. And I'm not talking just about the demonic kind. There are basically four kinds of tongues. There is Biblical tongues like you see in Acts 2. There is demonic imitations, which are also true languages. Witchdoctors in Ethiopia spoke in tongues when they are demon possessed. And we know several charismatics who lost the gift of tongues when a demon was cast out of them. So there is Biblical tongues, there are demonic tongues. Then thirdly there are fake tongues where people just say nonsense sounds so that they can fit in. But there is a fourth phenomena in which the mind is disengaged from the tongue through psychological manipulation or emotional trauma and the person lets forth a torrent of sounds that can have mixtures of words and non-words. And non-believers have experienced that. So I want you to be clear so that you are not sucked in.

When they ask you, "Don't you want the fullness of the Spirit's blessing," you can respond, absolutely yes I do. I want more than what you are offering. According to Paul, the Spirit never bypasses the mind. He heightens our understanding. So those are the rules that God gave for tongues. And that is as far as we are going to go on this subject. If you desire the material I have given over the past three weeks, I hope to put it into booklet format. Let's pray.

Children of God. I charge you to glory in the God who mandates law and order; decency and meaning. I charge you not to play around with that which bypasses the mind in the charismatic movement, nor to go to the other extreme and to embrace sterile rationalism. Instead, embrace the rational supernaturalism of the God of Scripture. Amen.


  1. "How is it then, brethren" sets up a confrontation. Then comes the description of what they are doing (not what they should be doing): "Whenever you come together each of you has…has…has…" Then comes the solution to their bad practice: "let all things be done for edification." Rather than everyone trying to get in on the act in selfish ways, each should be thinking about what others need.

  2. "How is it then, brethren" sets up a confrontation. Then comes the description of what they are doing (not what they should be doing): "Whenever you come together each of you has…has…has…" Then comes the solution to their bad practice: "let all things be done for edification." Rather than everyone trying to get in on the act in selfish ways, each should be thinking about what others need.

  3. Sadly, many evangelical writers prefer to believe their subjective "revelations" on this subject rather than to submit to inspired revelation. Shockingly, Gordon Fee says that these two verses cannot be Scripture. He knows what they say, he just disagrees with them. He says this: "These two verses together have a singular concern, that women ‘remain silent' in the congregational meetings, which is further defined as ‘not being permitted to speak' (v. 34) because it is ‘shameful' for them to do so (v. 35). The structure of the argument bears this out. It begins with ‘a sentence of holy law,' the absolute nature of which is very difficult to get around…"

    "Despite protests to the contrary, the ‘rule' itself is expressed absolutely. That is, it is given without any form of qualification. Given the unqualified nature of the further prohibition that ‘the women' are not permitted to speak, it is very difficult to interpret this as meaning anything else than all forms of speaking out in public. Someone apparently was concerned to note by way of a gloss that all the previous directions given by the apostle, including the inclusive ‘each one' of v. 26 and the ‘all' of v. 31, were not to be understood as including women."

    "…it is surprising that he should add it here, yet allow them to pray and prophecy in 11:5 and 13…"

    "The author of this piece seems intent on keeping women from joining in the vocal worship of the churches. The rule he wishes to apply he sees as universal and supported by the Law. It is difficult to fit this into any kind of Pauline context…"

    "Thus, in keeping with the textual questions, the exegesis of the text itself leads to the conclusion that it is not authentic. If so, then it is certainly not binding for Christians." Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), pp. 7-5-708.

  4. Sadly, many evangelical writers prefer to believe their subjective "revelations" on this subject rather than to submit to inspired revelation. Shockingly, Gordon Fee says that these two verses cannot be Scripture. He knows what they say, he just disagrees with them. He says this: "These two verses together have a singular concern, that women ‘remain silent' in the congregational meetings, which is further defined as ‘not being permitted to speak' (v. 34) because it is ‘shameful' for them to do so (v. 35). The structure of the argument bears this out. It begins with ‘a sentence of holy law,' the absolute nature of which is very difficult to get around…"

    "Despite protests to the contrary, the ‘rule' itself is expressed absolutely. That is, it is given without any form of qualification. Given the unqualified nature of the further prohibition that ‘the women' are not permitted to speak, it is very difficult to interpret this as meaning anything else than all forms of speaking out in public. Someone apparently was concerned to note by way of a gloss that all the previous directions given by the apostle, including the inclusive ‘each one' of v. 26 and the ‘all' of v. 31, were not to be understood as including women."

    "…it is surprising that he should add it here, yet allow them to pray and prophecy in 11:5 and 13…"

    "The author of this piece seems intent on keeping women from joining in the vocal worship of the churches. The rule he wishes to apply he sees as universal and supported by the Law. It is difficult to fit this into any kind of Pauline context…"

    "Thus, in keeping with the textual questions, the exegesis of the text itself leads to the conclusion that it is not authentic. If so, then it is certainly not binding for Christians." Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), pp. 7-5-708.


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