Before examining tongues deniers’ attack on the Apostle Paul and his writings, let us understand the relationship among Paul, the Holy Spirit and God. As I prove conclusively in the series titled The Trinity, which I ask all readers to read, the Holy Spirit is not a God, nor is it a member of a “trinity,” nor does it have self-generating power, nor does it think, reason, determine, speak, etc. This most holy of God’s creations is unique and must not be spoken against, which is blasphemy. God’s Spirit is like the most powerful engine on earth that, unless controlled by a human being, can do NOTHING. It functions ONLY as the extension of its operator. It is the power which does ONLY the will of its operator. The Holy Spirit acts ONLY according to its OWNERS’ will in that it has no will of its own. The Spirit is called “the Spirit OF God,” “the Spirit OF Christ,” and “the Spirit OF Jesus.” The word “OF” in this context denotes ownership and total control. The Holy Spirit does nothing by its own volition. Biblically, the Holy Spirit is referred to in both the masculine (he, his) and the neuter (it, its) sex. An excellent example of the Godhead’s total control over the Spirit is found in Psalm 33:6,9 where the creation of the universe is described: “By the WORD (speech) of the Lord the heavens were made, all of them–the heavens and everything in them– were made by the BREATH of His mouth. …. For He SPOKE and it (what He spoke) was done. He COMMANDED (spoke) and it (the whole of creation) materialized” (Ps. 33:6,9). The Spirit accomplished God’s spoken will. The Holy Spirit is the power of God’s Words by which He spoke the universe into existence. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE POWER OF THE GODHEAD (FATHER AND SON). This is brought out in Luke 1:35 where Mary has asked the angel Gabriel how she, a virgin, could become pregnant. He explained: “The HOLY SPIRIT will come upon you, and (when that happens) the POWER OF THE HIGHEST (GOD) will overshadow you. Therefore that holy thing which will be born of you will be called THE SON OF GOD,” not the Son of the Holy Spirit, which He would be if the Spirit was a God. Note that Jesus never prayed to the Holy Spirit. Nor are saints told to do so. When we read that “the Spirit speaks ….” that means that God spoke through the Spirit. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is the POWER OF GOD. Because blaspheming His Spirit is the unpardonable sin, we know that God holds His Spirit/power in the highest of esteem. Now let us turn to the Apostle Paul whom the vast majority of professing Christendom accuses of telling numerous lies relative to the will of God, all of which involve the “tongues controversy.”
But first, let us allow the Lord to explain who this man called Paul was in His sight. Writing under the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:14-16), as did all Bible writers (2 Pet. 1:21), Paul states that he did not receive his gospel from man, but rather FROM JESUS CHRIST through revelation. God speaks (reveals) to man through His Holy Spirit. CHRIST SPOKE TO PAUL THROUGH HIS HOLY SPIRIT. This was true of all Bible writers and all who hear His voice and obey Him today. Anyone who rejects Paul’s Words is rejecting the Words of the Son of God that were delivered by the Holy Spirit, thereby exalting himself above Jesus, His Spirit and Paul. With that Biblical foundation established, let us examine what Paul wrote concerning speaking in unknown tongues. Let us examine the first letter he wrote to the church at Corinth where a problem had arisen concerning speaking in tongues during church services.
Paul had undoubtedly received word that such a problem was disrupting the meetings. Some parishioners were going beyond the bounds established by the Lord. Therefore Paul, having founded the church and being responsible for what went on within it, felt compelled to address the problem. One will note that the problem was not the gift of tongues itself, but rather its manifestation among the congregates. We will begin Paul’s correction of the tongues problem with chapter 12 and address his instructions more or less in the order in which he records them. His instructions fill most of chapters 12 and 13 and all of chapter 14. Obviously, speaking in tongues was important to him. And in that he received his gospel from Jesus Himself, tongues are obviously important to Him. On two occasions in those chapter Paul compared tongues as a gift of God to body parts and positions in the church body. He made it clear that the gifts, body parts and positions are important, that without all of them the church would be incomplete.
In 12:1 Paul makes it clear that SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS A GIFT GOD HAS GIVEN TO HIS CHURCH. He did not want the parishioners to be “IGNORANT” about those gifts. In verses 4-6 he notes that spiritual gifts, administrations and operations are administered by God (vss 5,6) through His Holy Spirit (vs 4,7). In verses 8-11 Paul notes that God, manifesting His will through His Spirit (vs 8), has blessed His church with such gifts as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, power over evil spirits, speaking in unknown tongues and interpretation of tongues. He also notes that all of God’s gifts are administered by His Spirit and are manifested in men according to His (God’s) will. In 12:28-31 Paul reiterates how God appoints different people to be apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, healers, helpers, governors and tongues speakers. No one has been given all of the gifts. Not all are apostles, or prophets, or teachers, or miracle workers. Not everyone heals, speaks in tongues or interprets tongues. Above all gifts, Paul tells us in 13:1-7, is the gift of love which will never pass away. Not so with the other gifts. In 13:8-13 he tells us that they will pass away (“fail”) when the perfect Christ returns to the earth (vs 10) because they will no longer be needed. Now we are as children, seeing and understanding only what God allows us to see and understand. Paul describes our inability to grasp what God has in store for his true saints in 2:9. Like a child, he was in awe over what he was shown.
In 13:11 the apostle admonishes church people to grow up in the Lord, to obey Him even though we do not understand all things at this point. Children are selfish and want everything to fall into place so that they are in control of everything around them. This is also the case with babes in Christ, some of whom were in the Corinthian church and were causing problems relative to speaking in tongues. Paul address the immaturity situation in his letter to the Hebrew Christians. In 5:11-6:3 he admonishes those who were lagging behind to get with the Lord’s maturity program. Paul needed to feed them “strong meat” but they were too immature to accept it. They were long past the point when they should have left the spiritual breast and its milk menu. By that time in their spiritual walk they should have been consuming God’s meaty Truth. Evidently, some in the Corinthian church were refusing to come up to God’s standard relative to speaking in tongues. In the early church led by the apostles the question was not if the people spoke in tongues, but how.
In chapter 14 Paul gets specific. He goes into detail while presenting his instructions. This tells us how important the gift of tongues was to him. He was making certain that the people understood God’s will. In verse 1 he stated that everyone should desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy–the ability to speak God’s Word to the congregation. In verse 5 Paul wishes that everyone would speak in tongues, though to prophesy was more advantageous to the congregation. Tongues required interpretation of the foreign words. In verse 26 he notes that when they came together different people would have different gifts. Different people might have a psalm, or a doctrine, or a TONGUE, or a revelation, an interpretation of a tongue or of a revelation. All of the gifts were good, as long as they were manifested in an orderly fashion and edified the entire body. About himself he noted in verses 15 and 18 that he prayed and sung in the spirit (in tongues) as well as in his native language. He stated that he spoke in tongues more than anyone else in the church. Then in verse 39 he stated that no one was to forbid anyone else from speaking in tongues. But such speaking had to be done according to God’s rules (vs 40). These rules are laid out in 14:5-33.
Basically, God, through Paul by way of His (God’s) Spirit, states that if someone speaks audibly to the church in an unknown tongue there must be an interpretation of the message. Otherwise the message would not be understood. This would cause those who did not understand the gift to be confused. If there was no one present who had the gift of interpretation, the speaker should speak only to himself. Under no circumstance should several people speak in tongues at the same time, which I have seen happen several times. At one point years ago I found myself in a black “Pentecostal” church where I knew none of the members. At one point the entire congregation was praying in tongues for a woman who was lying in front of the alter with several people kneeling around her. No one could identify her problem and nothing was being accomplished due to the commotion. I was standing at a distance from the woman. Then God spoke to me, telling me, a total (white) stranger, to take charge of the situation. He also told me that the woman was a lesbian who liked white women. People were kneeling around her speaking in tongues and doing what so many Pentecostals do, much of which is not of God as Paul makes perfectly clear. Frankly, I wanted no part of what was taking place.
Nevertheless, I had my orders. After asking God if I had heard Him correctly and being told that I had, I walked into the middle of the confusion and began pulling people away from the prostrated woman. Suddenly, everyone stopped praying. The room became quiet. Those who had been around her backed away. Knowing that I had heard the Lord, I knelt down and whispered in her ear what God had told me. He was right, of course. After acknowledging that I was a man of God, she got up and walked back to her seat. I then returned to my seat. I had not been invited to minister that night so I did only what God had instructed me to do. Under normal circumstances I would have cast the spirit of lesbianism out of her and set her free from demonic control through the power of the Holy Spirit. When ministering I listen very carefully to the Spirit–the method by which God speaks to man. If I am in doubt I do nothing. When I hear the Lord I always ask Him to repeat the message. I am not afraid to act when I know I have heard Him. However, I would rather not act at all than to be guilty of obeying my own “voice” (desire).
In summary, those who reject God’s gifts of speaking in tongues and interpretation of the messages are rejecting God’s will, His Words, God Himself and His Son (Lk. 10:16) as well as the Holy Spirit which delivers His Words. Many use 1 Corinthians 13:11 as an excuse to defy Him and to ridicule His saints. In doing so they are accusing God, His Son, His saints, His Spirit and His human messengers of being immature “children.” Paul makes it clear that speaking a message in the common tongue is superior to speaking in tongues. Contrary to almost universal church opinion, that does not do away with God’s gift of tongues. I prefer steak over bologna. However, I have eaten more than my share of bologna. I would prefer to drive a Lamborghini. However, I do not refuse to drive my Toyota because it is not a Lambo. Common sense is always en vogue.
The irony concerning those who reject God’s gift of speaking in tongues is that they do nothing at all. Not only do they not speak to the church in unknown tongues, they also do not speak in their native language about the “wonderful works of God” as the people in the upper room did to the people who had gathered around them (Acts 2:11). I would ask them to put up or shut up. If they do not speak in tongues that’s their business. But do not tell others that God, His Son and His Spirit are behaving childishly when They manifest the gift through people in the church. If people can reject one of God’s gifts to His church (1 Cor. 1-11; 28-31), then they can reject any gift they do not understand or do not like? Why do they reject the gift of speaking unknown tongues? PRIDE. Their attitude is that if they cannot understand it, it cannot be of God, no matter how many times He declares that it is. The moral: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SATAN. L.J.