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The Gift of Tongues: Part 3

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Question #1: 

Hello Robert.

It is nice to message you after such a long time. I wanted to ask you, would you consider saying god****it as blasphemy (not towards the holy spirit but towards the holy father)?

Response #1: 

Good to hear from you my friend. I hope you are doing well.

As to your question, the word "blasphemy" is an English transliteration of a Greek word which, in English, has picked up connotations (largely due to the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church) which do not reflect actual biblical usage. In Greek, the word means to speak ill of someone or something, and that is only a problem in respect of your question if a person is speaking ill of God. In your example, I am certain that intoning this tasteless phrase is a bad idea for a Christian, and is no doubt a sin even though it is not technically set forth as such in the New Testament (regardless of what is meant by the person using the phrase – I've rarely heard it without angry also). There is as you know also mentioned in scripture the "blaspheming of the Spirit", but that is technical for rejecting His testimony about Jesus.

What I would want anyone considering this issue to avoid is to assume that blasphemy is some kind of special, technical sin in the Bible which has special punishments attached to it. It is not and so it cannot. True, under the Mosaic Law misusing "the Name" was a capital offense, but we are not in the theocratic state of Israel nor are we under the Law. Disrespecting the Lord in any way, however, is certainly sinful, certainly a bad idea, certainly invites divine discipline, and certainly does not demonstrate the appreciation we ought to have for Him in dying on the cross for all of our sins that we might be saved. But it is also a bad idea to make up "magic" sins (as in the R.C. church) and attach special importance to them when scripture does not do so or to do this in a way scripture does not do. Truth is the only thing that has any real value, and anything not completely true can be a stumbling block.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Robert,

It is good to hear from you again. I really appreciate you informing me of Ichthys' new postings. Also, I have a question for you. I am not concerned with blasphemy against the holy spirit, for I know that it is rejecting the gospel. I just wanted to know if insulting a gift of God (mainly speaking in tongues) is the same as insulting the holy spirit.

Sincerely,

Response #2:   

Good to hear from you too.

On your question, I've never heard of "insulting a gift". I'm not sure what that would be or how one would do it. "Insult" is a non-biblical, Latin-derived English word (meaning etymologically to "jump out at"); this is a concept I don't really see in scripture, so I don't think it's anything to worry about. If you mean to say that someone who claims to speak in tongues is giving you are hard time when you tell them that what they are doing is not of God, you would only be in the wrong if they were actually speaking in biblical tongues . . . and that gift has not been given since the first century (so you would be in the right). What type of sin it would be to claim to have and to be using a gift which the Spirit has not actually given may be hard to classify, but it doesn't really matter. Sin is sin. All sin was paid for by Christ on the cross. All believers are forgiven their sins when they accept Christ, and restored to fellowship with Him whenever they sin thereafter if they confess. Those who persist in, say, pretending to speak in tongues, are going to be the object of divine discipline in order to correct their behavior – just as with any other sin a believer is habitually committing and not confessing and turning away from.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Tell me robert,

Is speaking against tongues verbal blasphemy?

Response #3: 

I'm not sure where you got that! First of all, tongues is/are a spiritual gift, so they can't be blasphemed (only persons can be blasphemed / spoken ill of in the sense of the biblical word). Secondly, that gift hasn't been given (truly) for almost 2,000 years. Now whether or not those who claim to be able to be speaking tongues are committing blasphemy is a different issue. It certainly is sinful to claim to have some gift a person does not in fact have, even if the person has been deceived or is deceiving him or herself. But no sin is "unpardonable" for a believer. For us, all sin is forgiven when confessed to the Lord (1Jn.1:9).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Bob,

Earlier today I took my Bible study group through a discussion of tongues since one of the members is being pressured by the church to accept the teaching/deceive himself into thinking that he can "do it too". (I say "the church" instead of "our church" because I have distanced myself from all but the small groups that are relatively unmoderated by Church leadership).

This was the first time I've run across resistance to what I've been teaching. I'm afraid I somewhat bungled my presentation since we were strapped for time (2 hours isn't a lot of time to split between this discussion, Jonah 3, and Peter's Epistles #4) ... and for the first time I got an "I'll think about what you've said and do some more research" instead of immediate agreement. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, especially since said research will consist of reading what you have written about the topic.

One verse I had problems explaining well was 1 Corinthians 14:2. For reference, here is how I expanded the translation on the sheet I gave them for the study (attached):

For anyone who speaks in a tongue (i.e., a foreign language that they have no knowledge of) does not speak to people (because they are speaking a language that no one in the congregation knows) but to God [alone] (since God is the only one that understands the foreign language). Indeed, no one understands them (because, as previously mentioned, they are speaking in a language completely separate from the congregation’s); they utter mysteries (i.e., things that the hearers do not know the meaning of) by the Spirit (since they themselves do not know what they are saying).

Previous to this I had established that tongues were real languages, and I thought that was sufficient for interpreting the verse as above. However, we spent a good 20 or 30 minutes talking in circles about what "speaking to God" meant, and I really struggled to answer my friend's questions. For example: what does "speaking to" mean? I set about trying to show that it is used idiomatically to represent the situation of when something is only applicable to a certain group or only a certain group understands ("preaching to the choir", "speaking to the humanity in you", etc.). Thus, the speaker may be speaking "to God" in the sense that God is the only one that understands him. This didn't seem to be sufficient as an explanation, and now I am not even sure if this is what the text means. Is there anything atypical going on in the Greek grammar here (with indirect objects and such)? How are we to understand what this verse means?

Four other questions came up that I was unprepared for:

1) How do those speaking in tongues "edify themselves" (1 Corinthians 14:4)? I explained that the point of tongues was edifying the body in the absence of apostolic teaching or scripture, just like the spiritual gift of prophecy, but I couldn't think of why speaking in tongues on your own would be inherently edifying (especially without an interpreter). Thoughts?

2) Who is the one doing the interpreting in 1 Corinthians 14:13 (i.e., is it the speaker who is praying that he may interpret his own speech, or praying that another might interpret his own speech)? While the entire tone of the passage seems to go against speaking in tongues on your own without other believers present, I was asked what this verse meant in relation to the idea that a believer could pray to God in tongues/speak tongues to himself and then interpret on his own. I didn't think this was what was meant, but I wasn't sure enough to give a firm response one way or the other.

3) What does speaking "to himself and to God" mean in the context of verse 28? I was firmly convinced that this was normal prayer without relation to tongues. But it was objected that perhaps he was speaking in tongues in his head and then God was interpreting this "internal speech" somehow. I didn't quite know what to make of this or how to respond.

4) Do speakers know what it is they are saying? I would say no, because that would sort of defeat the purpose of having an interpreter, but what then of Acts 2? Did the apostles not know at all what they were saying as they ministered to the gentiles? I did not try to answer the question because I was not (am not) sure.

Certainly don't feel pressured to read the whole 14 pages of the study's sheet, or to get back to me fast. I have a week to prepare myself for the next meeting, unless I meet with the individual outside of our normal study time. Sorry for having so many questions! I think I've emailed you more than once a week now for the last little bit...

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Response #4:   

I think you handled this marvelously well. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe that you already understand this issue better than 99% of evangelical pastors, even those who don't accept the validity of current day tongues. As far as "speaking to God", I think you have it exactly right. How would "speaking to God" be any different in a different language? Or do we suppose that God doesn't understand us unless we speak in tongues? We all speak to God when we pray, don't we? Paul uses this phraseology because when a person spoke in a tongue (today what happens is not biblical tongues), they spoke only to God (which is the point) and not to the rest of the congregation who did not understand – nor did they themselves understand (which is why their "spirit prays" but their "mind is unfruitful": 1Cor.14:14). As to your other questions:

1) Whenever we do something, say something, think something that is definitely from God, there is at least some small degree of edification if only because of the genuine encouragement that comes from the truth. Those who legitimately spoke in a genuine tongue were certainly conscious of the fact that they were doing so by means of the Spirit of God, and that it was a miraculous gift which they had been given. That is encouraging in the Lord, and to that degree is edifying. It builds up confidence in the reality of the unseen power of God. It is not as edifying as hearing the truth – which is why Paul is unwilling to let others be involved without there also being an interpreter present who would be able to translate the words of the Spirit into an understandable form. Paul takes pains not to denigrate true tongues (cf. also 1Cor.14:39) – he never throws the baby out with the bathwater (cf. his unwillingness to prohibit alcohol use even though he vehemently castigates drunkenness and carousing of all sorts) – but he also restricts their use in the local church to instances where there can be the edification of all. Why is witnessing others speaking in tongues not edifying? Because not only are the words not understandable – there is also no way for a listener to tell if the speaking is "true tongues" or just made up. That, after all, is precisely the situation we see in Charismatic churches today.

2) It is a third party who must do the interpreting. While the language in 1st Corinthians 14:13 does not absolutely rule out the unlikely possibility that the tongues-speaker should pray that he himself might be the interpreter (in the hypothetical only – spiritual gifts are given at salvation and not, as far as scripture suggests, afterwards), if that had been what Paul meant he could have and I believe would have added the word autos = "that he himself might interpret". More likely from the grammatical point of view is that we should translate "one" instead of "he", taking the verb as meant generally (n.b., NIV gets this right: "[he] should pray that they may interpret", as does the Vulgate: interpretetur: "[he should pray that] he may be interpreted"). The clincher for me is verse 27:

If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret (interpretation being a gift discrete from tongues: 1Cor.12:20).
1st Corinthians 14:27 NKJV

3) I believe I answered this in the intro. God doesn't need to interpret us, obviously.

4) No. You are correct. They are speaking real languages (not made up sounds as in the Charismatic churches today). There is no other way to "interpret" Paul's lengthy discourse in 1Cor.14:6-11. The true tongues-speakers themselves do not understand what they are saying. That is clearly what happened on the day of the Church's first Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts as well. The people who heard affirmed that they were hearing God's Word through these individuals, but there is no indication at any point that those who spoke in these tongues understood anything more than that God was speaking through them.

Everything in scripture is consistent with the prima facie clear account of tongues being an evangelical gift whereby the gospel is given to individuals in their own language by those who otherwise do not speak it, save for God's miraculous gift. The only reason there is any controversy today is because what is going on in Charismatic venues diverges so radically from what is found in scripture. That is the reason for such vehement objection to the obvious and clear sense of scripture, namely, a preordained view which is contrary to the Bible but emotionally held (as is so often the case with so many false doctrines – cf. the pre-Trib "rapture").

The matter is really very simple. Once it is admitted from a casual perusal of any English version of chapter 14 that a "tongue" is a real human language with genuine meaning, it will now be an easy matter to test someone who claims to be speaking in tongues in a biblical way. Simply record the sounds and determine what language it is. But if it is not in fact a real language and instead merely gibberish, then by definition it cannot be biblical tongues. N.B., this test is always failed and for that reason usually resisted. These people know very well that they are not really speaking a genuine language but instead only making sounds in an emotionally aroused state. But they like doing it – so it must be godly.

One final point. Today the world is in need of more evangelical outreach than perhaps ever before in its history. And today we see "tongues" claimed by more people than in all preceding nearly two thousand years preceding. Why aren't all these people using their gift to bring to Christ and edify others in different countries, since that is the purpose of the gift? Or even evangelizing the numerous newly arrived immigrants in this country? I don't even know of a single instance of this – and that is not surprising since the genuine gift is not being given at present.

For completeness' sake, here are all the major Ichthys links on tongues and related issues:

The Gift of Tongues: Part 2

The Gift of Tongues: Part 1

More on Spiritual Gifts

An Extended Conversation about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Is speaking in tongues biblical?

Is speaking in tongues a sin?

"The baptism which now saves you": 1st Peter 3:21.

Some questions about Nimrod and Christmas trees, Tongues, and Healing

A Miscellany of Questions and Answers

Confession of Sin, Fellowship, and the Filling of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Growth

Are Miraculous Gifts Operational Today?

All Things Charismatic.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit as distinct from speaking in tongues.

Tongues: does 'no man' understand?

Feel free to write me any time! And keep up the good work for the Church of Jesus Christ.

In our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Everything you write, as usual, makes good sense. I think I wanted my friend to understand so much that I perhaps read in more than I should have with regards to the "speaking to" part. Read plainly, it is really very simple. That's why I couldn't understand why it wasn't getting through ... and I started trying to come up with reasons for why it was true other than that it's what scripture says. Dangerous business, that!

Just for the purpose of trying to help him understand, though, there were a few other things I want to make sure I've got absolutely nailed down. I had a hard time trying to figure out what position he was putting forward (no doubt because it was not explained in great detail to him by the tongues proselytes since any clear rendition would be discernibly false), but one thing I know was causing confusion was whom the speaker was addressing ("speaking to"). As the question goes, so far as I could tell, it was that the tongues-speaker is "technically" addressing the congregation when they speak (as in they are speaking out loud and the congregation hears them), as well as God. But the verse obviously says that only God is being spoken to. So what gives?

I was actually very confused when this was brought up because it doesn't actually support the "gibberish as tongues" position either – it just seems to be an objection leveled at the Biblical text. Now I'm not familiar with the Greek words here, but it seems to me that when we "speak to" someone they understand us. So me sitting in a Chinese square yammering in English is not the same as me speaking to Chinese people in Chinese. I might put it that we can "address" people while speaking in another language (make eye contact, turn towards them, speak in their direction), but to really "speak to" someone they must understand us. Do you find this distinction Biblical?

This point was also discussed in terms of tongues in evangelism. If you are speaking to someone in their own language, by the above definition, you are speaking to them as well as to God. I do not believe this is problematic whatsoever because 1 Corinthians 14:2ff is discussing the use of the gift in the Church not necessarily in evangelism. What do you think?

Secondly, it was asked "how it makes sense" that God would give the spiritual gift of speaking "to him" in another language if we can already speak "to him" in our own language through prayer. I would say because speaking in tongues was used as a means to get God's truth in the absence of scripture or apostolic teaching... not that the individual wasn't still speaking to God alone as 14:2 says, but that this gift comprised half of the tongues/interpretation duo that made this possible. Thus, it makes sense that God would give this gift of speaking to him in another language even though we can already speak to him in our own: because it was just one half of the equation. We were running out of time at the point that this came up so I did not address it fully, but this is how I am planning on discussing it next week. Does this seem like a good way to put it?

Thirdly, I was asked if the language spoken in by the speaker was always necessarily removed from that of everyone in the congregation. Scripture does discuss both the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation, but I actually wasn't sure if someone could speak tongues in, say, Latin, and then have people that spoke Latin interpret what they say independent of a gift of interpretation. 14:2 does weigh against this possibility (they are speaking only to God... not to God and a small subset of the congregation that understands whatever language they are speaking in), but I wanted to make sure before I said dogmatically that it wasn't possible.

Finally, I know that the question of whether or not a gifted individual can, in the hypothetical, speak tongues alone to God (i.e., sit alone in a room and speak in a foreign language as "prayer") will come up. I do not know of a single place in scripture where this is mentioned, and both purposes of the gift of tongues (as an evangelistic tool and as a part of a combination to access God's truth miraculously in the absence of scripture or apostolic teaching) seem to emphasize the impact on others much more than the impact on the speaker (cf. v.4). Of course, I am not asking about made up gibberish passing as some sort of "prayer language", I am asking if it would even be hypothetically possible for this to occur with the legitimate gift of tongues. If not, this is just one more strike against the false position, and will make it all the more obvious to my friend.

Since I've done a good bit of writing and thought on this issue now, I may pull something rather systematic together here at some point (something that briefly goes over the Biblical position and refutes common objections). I actually couldn't find anything I thought did a particularly good job of it out on the internet, aside from your email responses, which take a bit of work to pull everything together out of. Do you think this would be valuable?

In Christ,

Response #5: 

On "to whom", you have it exactly right. The best case scenario for Paul is that the tongue-speaker is speaking to God alone in the privacy of his home; the worst case is that he is holding forth in the assembly, in which case only God is able to understand him, not the assembled Christians, so that he is still even then in effect speaking (understandable words) to God alone; what he is doing as far as those in the assembly are concerned is merely making noise, not speaking, because speaking, by definition (in English or in Greek) is communicating in words. And as you also rightly reason, the gift itself, meant for evangelism, would also be an actual speaking "to God" but also to those receiving the message in their own language. The only way tongues can be a benefit to the Church outside of such evangelism is in the assembly in cases where someone is present who has the gift of interpretation and can translate what the person speaking in the tongue says. Otherwise, the tongue-speaker is merely speaking "to God", and even he himself doesn't understand what he is saying; that may be encouraging to himself, but it is disorderly and unhelpful for others if done in public. I think your reasoning on all these points is sound, therefore. The main thing I would want to get across in this context is the indisputable point that Paul is forbidding speaking in tongues in the assembly except when there is an interpreter present (the person in question is apparently allowed to do this in private – that is, speak in a legitimate tongue). This would knock out ALL tongues activity in Charismatic churches, because the gift of interpretation is also not being given at present (and is obviously not necessary for interpreting a gift that is not being given). So there is a major vulnerability in the approach all Charismatic groups take, because they all allow and encourage some degree of tongues-speaking in the assembly – but without argument (for anyone who has read 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen) this is not allowed without an interpreter, and at present there are none anywhere on earth. Side note: I'm not aware of any of these groups doing "pretend interpretation"; that would be a "Jim Jones" level of chicanery, and while I wouldn't put it past some of these groups, I'm not aware of this happening as a rule.

If someone in the congregation spoke the language the tongue-speaker spoke, then said person could interpret (Paul doesn't limit interpretation to someone with the gift of interpretation); so if such an instance occurred, then the tongue-speaker could speak because the speaking could be interpreted. That way the congregation is edified both by the message and by the clear evidence that it comes directly from God. But without interpretation (from whatever source), there is only noise, and its source cannot be verified. Clearly, the problem in Corinth was not this hypothetical situation (as in the example you use of Latin); rather, some with the gift of tongues were speaking in languages no one knew and without there being anyone there to interpret (or at least there was no interpretation going on). That is what Paul is keen to prevent because it is an abuse of the purpose of assembly which is not theatrics and pyrotechnics but teaching and hearing the truth of the Word of God. In other words, Paul was keen to prevent precisely what is happening wherever "tongues" are being displayed in public today – with the exception that at least the Corinthians had in their favor the fact that the tongues displayed there were the result of an actual gift of the Spirit – unlike today.

On the possibility and legitimacy of speaking in tongues on one's own, you make a very good point. There is, as you say, no scripture describing or authorizing the practice, and no instance of it happening recorded in the Bible; all of Paul's comments in 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen have to do with the assembly. That is not, however, the same thing as forbidding it. Since he says at the end of the chapter not to prevent speaking in tongues, I don't think we can rule it out as having been legitimate. We do have to ask about motivations. That is, "why?" would anyone want to do this? If I am desiring to pray, well, no prayer means anything without content, and that content consists of understandable words, whether verbalized or said in my heart. But if I am verbalizing sounds I do not understand, what sort of prayer is that?

What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.
1st Corinthians 14:15 NASB

As to systematizing, most people find this helpful. However, one needs to be careful about the potential danger of the outline driving the content. The Bible says what it says; it doesn't say what it doesn't say. Sometimes a logical outline can demonstrate gaps in one's logic or understanding that need to be and can be filled; but if there are gaps because the Bible doesn't address some point, it is important not to let the desire to organize things put one's teaching off-balance from a scriptural point of view.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

The best case scenario for Paul is that the tongue-speaker is speaking to God alone in the privacy of his home; the worst case is that he is holding forth in the assembly.

Could you explain this sentence? Would not the "best case" be that the speaker is speaking in the congregation with an interpreter interpreting his speech for the benefit of all, and the worst case be that he was speaking alone to God without edifying anyone at all but himself?

If someone in the congregation spoke the language the tongue-speaker spoke, then said person could interpret (Paul doesn't limit interpretation to someone with the gift of interpretation); so if such an instance occurred, then the tongue-speaker could speak because the speaking could be interpreted.

Here, I am running into a problem of logic. We have established above that a working definition of "speaking to" is "addressing/communicating with understanding." Therefore, when someone evangelizes in tongues, they are speaking to both God and the person they are evangelizing to, and when they speak in tongues in a foreign language that no one else in the congregation understands, they are speaking to God alone. Since Paul is addressing the use of tongues in the assembly in 14:2, there is no contradiction in evangelism even though God is not the only one being spoken to. But if we then say that the speaker may speak in a language that others in the congregation already know (in the context of the local church assembly), then we have the speaker speaking to both these people and God, contradicting 14:2 outright (now "someone" does understand him, not "no one").

This makes me think that it is necessary to contextualize 14:2, and now that I think about it, the failure to do so is likely what has been causing both my friend and myself confusion. After all, one could make the argument that the gift of interpretation is no more than God miraculously enabling someone else to understand the speaker... which would contradict 14:2 if we used it in the same narrow way as above (i.e., now "someone" understands not "no one"). What do you think about viewing it like this:

"For one who speaks in a tongue [in the absence of other people that speak the language he is speaking or any interpreters given by God] speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him [because no one may interpret what he is saying], but he utters mysteries in the Spirit [since he himself does not understand what he is saying]."

If this is really what the verse is getting at, it makes a lot of sense (and allows for natural speakers of the tongues-language to interpret), but please do correct me if this is not the right way to view it.

One last question: Paul's command to not forbid speaking in tongues comes after his long discourse on the use of the gift of tongues in the Corinthian Church, and is followed by "But all things [in the assembly] should be done decently and in order." In fact, you said yourself that "all of Paul's comments in 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen have to do with the assembly." Why then do you think Paul might have had "solo tongues" in mind in verse 39 instead of it being solely targeted at the practice in the assembly (i.e., "So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid [the legitimate use of] speaking in tongues [in the assembly].")?

Response #6:   

To respond:

1) "holding forth" (sc. "without an interpreter").

2) If no one understands, then no one understands; if someone understands/interprets, then its all copacetic.

3) No. The gift enables a person to speak a human language they otherwise wouldn't be able to speak.

4) I think the comments are all addressed to the assembly. What some person might or might not have done privately is possibly entailed in some of the comments, as we have said, but that is not the thrust of his comments nor Paul's reason for making them, viz., to prevent the abuse of the gift that was taking place in Corinth where people with this gift were holding forth in the assembly without an interpreter. This is such an important point that it is worth repeating: what Charismatic churches do today is clearly wrong – even if we were to hypothetically accept the possibility that some of their member have the gift of tongues (which we do not accept); that is because 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen clear prohibits speaking in tongues in the assembly when there is no interpreter present.

Apologies if I have not processed any of the above questions correctly. Do feel free to write back!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Thank you for the candor and information you posted from your email exchange here: http://ichthys.com/mail-Spirit%20baptism.htm

I am embroiled in the most difficult time of my life in the last year, as ___ has begun praying in tongues and embracing extreme charismatic teachings since an encounter with an older "former" Pentecostal who felt called as an apostle to spiritually "fix" our church.

Very recently, ____ brought the exact same discussion to me regarding John 20:22, stating God's guidance. Part of the aggressive push continues to be a secondary Baptism of the Holy Spirit that always results in glossolalia/praying in tongues. I responded with these scriptures:

John 7:39 – Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. " (you discussed this as well)

John 16:7 – "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (as opposed to give, deliver, breathe it, etc.)

Luke 24:49 – "And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you ware clothed with power from on high." (a more clear telling of the exact same situation in John 20 but it stays in harmony with all the other scriptures, including the above)

Upon reading these in another of our heated exchanges, the story changed to "well, that’s what God brought me to describe/affirm what I experienced [then]." Those thoughts, and those stated of the charismatic person in your email discussion linked here, are the most problematic and disturbing facets of this that continue. 1) I am hearing the explicit words of God when/after I am praying in tongues (or because I’ve experienced it), and 2) it is not just my experience, but it has to be universal and I will use what scriptures I need to aggressively attempt to make it normative.

My battle continues in regard to prophesy, end times, healing, spiritual warfare and of course tongues confusion and abuse (biblically). I would appreciate your prayers and thank you for your website.

Blessings,

Response #7:   

Good job in citing very appropriate scripture – I hadn't myself put together the logic of these passages in John regard to refuting "second blessing" teachings, but there it is. A favorite passage of mine in this regard is Romans 8:9b:

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
Romans 8:9b NIV

In any version, this is pretty difficult for charismatic types to explain away.

This is a familiar story, one I have seen "up close and personal" as well. To paraphrase Paul, it's great to get emotionally enthusiastic about the Lord . . . but only according to the truth. Many people confuse the ministry of the Spirit with emotion, but in fact His ministry is often most powerfully felt in helping us to control and direct our own emotions rather than creating emotional excess (the fairly recently posted BB 5: Pneumatology goes into the details at the link). God is not a God of confusion, but the very thing Paul inveighs against in 1st Corinthians chapter fourteen is usually what characterizes these sorts of groups and their behavior.

I can only say that the beliefs of this movement are so transparently wrong – and somewhere in their hearts all involved do realize that – that it is not uncommon for new victims like ____ to sober up to the error of their ways when the rush of emotion passes away. My advice would be to be careful to leave open an avenue of return without the lose of too much face. One of the ways that all cults keep their members (and tongues groups certainly have at least one foot in that definition) is by commending such extreme behavior and commitment to the cause that going back can make a person look really stupid – so stupid, in fact, that out of pride many will stay on just so as not to have to eat the crow dished out by those who knew them before. But if they see that loving arms are willing to receive them back, forgiving and forgetting, then they may indeed grab that life-preserver tight and abandon the cult ship.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Thank you, Bob, for your response, care and prayer. Your advice is well-heeded regarding leaving a path back. In a good and bad way, we have found peace by not having very many deep spiritual discussions at all. Normally they are now fairly surface-level, and we focus on more ministry and serving at our church together. Sadly, this also means at least for the time being we are not connected deeply in the place it matter most.

It seems currently that in order for me to keep peace, show love, and leave a path, I am having to take a step back spiritually in some ways. While painful and not what I believe God wants, it at least keep our emotional, relational and somewhat spiritual proximity at least close. The biggest conflicts that arise are when error is taught. That is something I can’t let happen, and inevitably it leads to very painful stretches especially in regard to "prayer language" and a received gift of tongues and casting out demons, etc.

I’m sorry for the random diatribes. There are just very few people I can share these things with. I have struggled with deep depression and fear since this began about a year ago, and I’m trying my best to still somehow be who God wants me to be in all my roles. Thank you so much for your prayer, conversation and concern. I would love to know your own "up close and personal" experience should you ever desire to share.

Blessing and thanks,

Response #8: 

You are on the prayer list. A side note before I forget – you seem to know this well, but let me reinforce it: believers cannot be demon possessed (Rom.8:9; 2Cor.6:16). I'm happy to give you the Ichthys links on that.

Whenever we are under pressure in one test or another, fear and depression are handmaidens of the devil's attacks, and we really do need to go the extra mile in combating these feelings aggressively (please see the links: "The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle" and "Who controls our thoughts and emotions?"). What we think is in many ways the "spiritual high ground"; if we capture it and defend it successfully, we will find many other things fall into place for us. Conversely, if we give it up too easily, that will lead to all manner of other troubles. This is clearly a major test for you, and perhaps it is part of the intensified growth the Lord wants for you. Seen in that light, it's still not enjoyable, but it can be taken up as the challenge it is, namely, to fight through this dark valley of the death shadow through faith and faithfulness, knowing that victory, further growth and blessing lie on the other side. To that end I would strongly encourage you to make your personal spiritual growth a top priority even more so than before, and to aggressively apply the truth you know in this difficult time (see the link: "Spiritual Growth"). We can have joy through out tears, even when things are going wrong on every hand. But we have to remember that nothing which happens is unknown to the Lord – and that it was all put into the plan in eternity past. The only question is, how will we react to it? Hopeless situations are the place of the greatest grace, because only in evident hopelessness can our true hope rise with clarity to the top, like cream on milk:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

(12) I know how to handle humiliation; I also know how to handle prosperity. I have learned by experience in each and every way how to handle being abundantly provided for and being impoverished, being in prosperity and being in a state of deprivation. (13) I have the strength to endure all [extremes] in the One who empowers me to do so.
Philippians 4:12-13

I plan to keep you and yours in my prayers until victory comes.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Thank you for your links and responses below. I’ve benefitted from the scripture as well as the knowledge others are struggling and under fire as well. [details omitted] But the latest teaching sent to me (here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0lmcxf1lLU) requires someone to tell you the actual miracle was in the hearing of the lost people there, not in the tongues itself. And that was actually a heavenly language spoken by another part of the disciples (their spirit) saying things they didn’t even know, and is part of another experience God wants us to have called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc. etc. It’s a formula that isn’t in scripture, and requires a man to tell you because the Bible does not. Now it’s prophecy that's being claimed, casting Satan off, commanding a spirit of infirmity leave, and so much more that is simply not taught so formulaically in God’s Word.

I don’t know how to break of the desire for these resources. I don’t even think it’s possible. The change has got to come from the inside, and I don’t know what role I can play in that.

Thanks again for your prayers, encouragement, scripture and guidance.

Response #9:   

I sympathize with your situation. The specifics you share here are not unknown to me. I think you have hit the nail on the head. The reason for such convoluted "exegesis" in the various commentaries, "resources" and internet sites you mention, and appealing to all manner of special, non-biblical "sources" is precisely because what they are doing is so clearly not biblical and therefore not to be found anywhere in the actual Bible (and on some nervous level they know it). It speaks volumes that people in this movement are so enamored of the emotional high of these "experiences" that they are willing to do whatever is necessary in twisting scripture and adding to it in order to get it to agree with what they want to do in the first place. That is obviously a dangerous place to be.

One word of encouragement to you. In my experience of these things, the emotional high for most people who get involved in this movement wears off after a time. That may well be the case here. I note that you are reporting ever more "weird" activities and behaviors which are straying ever farther from scripture. As with drug and alcohol abuse where the addict needs ever increasing doses of the substance to chase the original "high", so it is with people who are abusing their emotions with false teaching and "experiential" Christianity. Since your ___ is not a long-time adherent of these things, it is very possible that ___ will get to the end of the road here when there is no longer anything "new and exciting" to supplement and boost the emotional high which is running out – and when a moment the moment of realization hits: "All this is a lie". Then comes the crash. As I suggested before, keeping the door of reconciliation open is an important thing to do if the relationship is going to be restored. Put another way, love, forgiveness and forgetfulness is the way forward if and when the opportunity arises (rather than "I told you so"). I'm sure you're already on top of that – you are clearly already putting up with a great deal. I'll be praying for you.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the God of Truth.

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Thank you again, Bob.

The hardest part about "keeping the door open" for me is that rit equires a known and open understanding that I don’t agree with the behavior and beliefs. The temptation is to just cave in is great. Recent: a video portraying a great deal of faith healing, knocking people down, "slain in the spirit," waving hands and knocking down crowds with the Spirit, etc. I simply could not watch.

I recently watched some videos from John Macarthur discussing some aspects of this, and he supported an analogy I’ve been contemplating… it’s a lot like liberalism in our political society. Despite a very common belief that most people don’t agree with aggressively liberal agendas (gay marriage, etc.) fewer and fewer people are willing to speak out against it, for risk of being labeled intolerant, bigoted or hateful. So it grows, fueled by selfishness, sin and ignorance. It seems to be the same as the charismatic movement moves it’s way more and more into the mainstream evangelical church … people are afraid to say anything as small doses of charismatic behavior work its way into churches, afraid to be labeled as legalistic, a Pharisee, putting God in a box, quashing the Spirit, not having the "full Gospel," etc. … so it grows, relatively unchecked as we "try and focus on unity and love."

You’ve stated you’ve been intimately familiar with people leaving that movement (I think?). Can you describe anything about their change? Did they have to deal with praying/speaking in tongues? Had they experienced any other "manifestations" that they had to reconcile as flesh or even evil?

Thanks again for your digital ear and prayers. I appreciate your thoughts and responses each time.

Response #10:   

You're welcome, my friend, and I certainly hope to hear very soon about a major change. But we will keep the matter persistently in prayer in any case until the victory is won.

The things you describe here are so obviously "crazy" that only someone who is trying to convince themselves of their truth by convincing others (a common phenomenon when it comes to any sort of lie) would be capable of enthusiastically promoting them. So I will choose to take this growing extremism as a positive sign. Simply put, most people who are not "crazy" cannot keep pretending that crazy things are not crazy forever, not at least without the emotional support of others. That's why cults of all kinds seek to isolate their victims for any contrary messages and keep them in a mix where crazy is normal for all concerned. Generally speaking, only by continual reinforcement in the absence of any dissonant messages can people keep themselves accepting that up is down and down is up, that hot is cold and cold is hot, etc..

In this particular "movement", people who genuinely buy into it do have serious doubts (because of the reality of the untruth of its principles and the lack of genuine Holy Spirit conviction as a result). This is often compensated for by an ever intensifying search for greater and greater emotional stimulation (which seems to be what is going on in this case). But that escalator runs out at some point when the personal or group ceiling is reached – and it is always reached. Those who remain make some compromise or other and just agree with themselves to accept some level of inconsistency and thus move on with their lives. That is hard to do for "true believers", and especially if they are not supported in their mistake.

So yes indeed your stalwart stance in regard to the truth is critical. In some respects, the reaction you are getting/seeing is no doubt a response to that firmness of faith in the actual truth. If you continue to stand firm, there is all that much more hope that folly will be seen as folly all the more quickly. Naturally, I'm not in any position to give guarantees or predictions, but I do know that the Lord knows your heart and your love for the truth, and I firmly believe that He has all this in hand. We are all tested in many ways, and not all in the same ways. Be pleased to stand firm in this test and trial. I promise to continue to do battle with you in prayer for victory and that right soon.

Yours in the One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ our Lord, the Word of God incarnate.

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Robert,

Thank you for your responses and communications over time. I appreciate your input, guidance and prayer, and it’s difficult to find anyone in my/our lives I can confide in that won’t change the dynamic relationships and ministry.

A couple of new subjects have arisen in conversations and I’ve discussed only slightly (at this point I’ve realized I cannot chase around and try and put out each fire, but I can and will defend, correct and apply Truth). [details omitted]

REPENTING FOR OTHERS: I simply said "I cannot repent on behalf of someone else. I cannot confess for him, ask forgiveness for him, and turn from any pride he has for him. That’s not how it works. I’ll gladly ask God to intervene and through the Holy Spirit convict to repentance."

CURSES: back from the library with a book "Prayers to Break Curses" or something similar. I was speechless. All I said was something along the lines of "Are you really going to start believing those kind of things now? How weak is your God?" Admittedly I was shocked, and unsure how to respond. There are just so many things now and with my current questioning of any discernment. I’ve made notes about curses after my own prayer and bible study and am praying about how to address: 1) Satan’s desire is complete destruction and death, both physically and spiritually for God’s created ones, saved or not. 2) The only thing controlling that and holding him back is his creator and ours, God (as clearly evidenced in Job and elsewhere). 3) The idea that we can loose Satan on another person is putting ourselves in God’s place. We can invite him closer to ourselves through sin, and it will have repercussions through Satan’s attacks, temptations and footholds, but even then it is with permission and under the providential eye of God. 4) As humans we cannot wield any supernatural power, evil or good, without God’s knowledge and approval. As believers, we cannot wield the Holy Spirit’s power without God’s specific desire in any and every circumstance.

Do these views make sense to you? Does my understanding from Scripture seem clear?

Thank you again for your time and any response. I’m praying for your ministry.

Response #11: 

And I have been praying for you and your situation. I'm sorry to hear that the end of all this has not come yet. From my (unfortunately) well-informed perspective, charismatic behaviors (of all kinds) are like drugs. They produce an initial high which hooks the person in question, who then spends all of his/her time trying to reproduce that original "honeymoon high" on the one hand while avoiding the inevitable lows on the other. That is why such people seldom stop with tongues or healing and always seem to migrate ever deeper into other areas of weirdness. What you write about curses and prayers for others (and everything else here) is obviously absolutely correct – of course. Anyone who is truly Christian and spends any significant time in scripture looking into these questions will come up with the same answers. The problem with the charismatics is that they are interested in experience (the emotional high of the "drugs" they are on), not scripture. Scripture is merely useful to them in justifying what they are doing (through faulty, parti pris interpretation) and in giving them ideas about how best next to satisfy their cravings. Dreams and visions are surely next on the list (although it is a long list). Generally speaking, these individuals and groups are adopting the most extreme possibilities practiced by cults. Intervening in prayer in illegitimate ways has always been big in the Roman Catholic church (indulgences and purgatory should ring a bell), and also with the Mormons (praying for the dead, also back to Adam and Eve). Exorcism and various interactions with demons are also common cult practices (going back to the Gnostics). All of this sort of thing is extremely spiritually dangerous, and not only because it is biblically wrong and distracts from the truth: they can also open the person who practice such things up to demon influence (or worse). I do have a few things on curses (this is a new hot area for these people):

The Generational curse

The Third and Fourth Generational Curses

Breaking the Generational Curse?

One last thing. To continue the drug analogy, for those who have loved ones involved in drugs, there is often a fine line between on the one hand keeping the lines of love and communication open to the person who is abusing him/herself, and enabling that person on the other. The latter activity is very bad, both because it actually will contribute to a continuation of the conduct, while at the same time endangering the enabler by exposing him/her to similar temptations. How to handle that dilemma is something the person in question has to figure out for him/herself, but it has to be done.

You're not crazy. You're seeing things with crystal clarity. Don't lose that good and godly perspective, no matter what.

Thank you for your prayers, my friend – they are greatly appreciated. I'll be keeping you in mine as well.

In our Lord Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins – and who has our best interests always in mind.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you Bob. I really appreciate your input and prayers.

My experience is indeed definitely along all the same lines you mention. And yes, dreams and visions have already been discussed as well as tons of always vague future prophesies from all over the internet. Currently I’m being seen as potentially disobedient because resisting obeying messages from dreams. What continues to amaze me, and seems to continually be an issue of this charismatic madness is the lack of humility in thoughts and perceptions, especially outside of scripture. "I think" or " in my opinion" or "I feel" or really even "I think God is guiding me" [has come to be on an equal par with scipture]. Any questioning of their own perceptions (including prophesy of all kinds) has been abandoned for absolute belief in their thoughts and perceptions, stating it’s a lack of faith or belief if they’re not handled accordingly.

The world is full of lots of people that are sure they’ve heard from God and they are disagreeing, arguing, fighting and even warring. The scariest avenue, of which I’ve only experienced a small amount so far, is while on one hand there is mutual agreement that Christians should always obey God no matter what (out of love, to further His Kingdom, enjoy His blessings, etc.), but on the other hand, charismatics consider obedience to God’s personal directives – the voices in their heads, their dreams, etc. – in the same category as obeying God’s Word. It is at that point I’ve had to clarify and take gentle stands. i.e. "I have to be obedient to what God told me," and I’ve had to say "No, you are wanting to be obedient to what you think God told you." While the butchering of Scripture is rampant and very problematic, it can at least at some point come to a standoff because the words are right there to study (rarely), define and discuss. Personal obedience to God’s voices has no proving ground. It’s a free-for-all for anyone thinking God spoke to them.

Indeed, I struggle to not enable. They problem is the confusion and problematic stances are shallow (in my experience charismatics rarely dive deep into scripture), but the solutions, Truth and cure are very, very deep.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond (when you can). I’m sure you’re a busy man like the rest of us. Thank you for your prayers.

Response #12:   

You have certainly become an expert in this, and I would not dream of faulting your conduct in any respect. It seems to me that you are doing an exemplary job fighting a very difficult fight under the most trying of circumstances, and handling it with supreme patience and a godly perspective. If anything, it seems to me that you are/have been well prepared to minister to others who may be coping with similar problems. There are plenty such out there (I hear from my share). With your permission, posting this conversation at some point (anonymously) might be a big help to many who have likewise had someone go "rogue charismatic". Further, it seems to me that you have precisely diagnosed the essential problem, namely, a lack of respect for scripture, putting personal experience in the driver's seat in its place. But here is what I read in the Bible:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
Galatians 1:8 NIV

In other words, the truth from scripture is to be believed even if it is contradicted by the most dramatic and sublime personal experience imaginable. So much is this the case that Peter, having seen not a false vision contradicting scripture but having heard the actual Father speaking nevertheless considered the Bible much more reliable – and that is the perspective he recommends to us all:

(18) And these words I myself heard as they were delivered from heaven, for I was with Him on the holy mountain (i.e., the Transfiguration; cf. Matt.17:1-8). (19) Yet I consider the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) even more reliable (i.e., than what I saw with my own eyes). You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns).
2nd Peter 1:18-19

The Bible is the truth. Therefore God will never be the author of any personal experience which contradicts scripture. No doubt the Lord does use certain experiences in our lives to guide us, to encourage us, and to provide confirmation of decisions we have made. On the one hand, therefore, we don't wish to be so utterly skeptical and faithless that we miss clear indications of God working in our lives; on the other hand, to see devils under every bushel basket and specific messages from God behind every daily event (let alone beginning to hear voices) is clearly taking things too far in the other direction. First and foremost we are supposed to be growing spiritually by learning more and more of the truth from the scriptures every day, believing it, and making it part of our faith-application to our daily lives. If we are doing that, the areas where we will need specific guidance will become less and less – and of course nothing prohibits us from asking for guidance in difficult choices in prayer even so. But consider. If God meant to talk to us in our heads to guide our every step the way some charismatics suppose, then we really would have little need for the Bible. Indeed, we then really would have little need for free will. In that case, we're not making any difficult choices informed by the truth, weighing the pluses and minuses; on the contrary we are just carrying out specific orders. And if God were giving those kind of specific orders (whether to order ham or turkey on our sandwiches, e.g.), why would we have the Bible and be asked to learn the depths of the truths it contains? I can only think of a very few Old Testament prophets who were given the kind of detailed, audible commands charismatics often arrogate to themselves, and even so these seem to have been unique events for the most part. Mostly the great believers of the Bible appear to function exactly as we should be functioning: walking closely with the Lord through His Word of truth. Given the great advantage we have today of so much scripture, so detailed, and so readily available, it seems powerfully strange to imagine that God did all that for us – and gave us the Spirit to illuminate that truth and to empower our response to it – if really it's not necessary to give it much of a thought (beyond justifying the bizarre behaviors we choose to engage in). And on the other hand . . .

(18) Let no one gain control over your life, desiring to [enslave you to himself] through a show of false humility and the adoration of angels, basing his approach on what he has [allegedly] seen while puffed up by his own fleshly thoughts, (19) yet not embracing the Head [Christ]. For it is from this Source that the entire body [the Church] is [truly] supplied and instructed through [all] its joints and sinews, and [thus] produces the growth that God has given.
Colossians 2:18-19

It's hard to convince those who have bought into this sort of thing that they are wrong. In my experience and observation, they usually have to get to a point of surfeit or experience some abuse so clear that it shocks them even in their semi-deranged state to finally "wake up". I'm praying that this comes sooner rather than later for you, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi Bob,

What does this verse mean?

"For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my [fleshly] mind is unproductive."

Sincerely,

Response #13: 

On 1st Corinthians 14:14, human beings are a unity of body and spirit, and for almost all practical purposes we usually can't (and so don't) distinguish between the spirit and the mind (the latter of which is a combination of body and spirit, aka "the heart"). But in cases where an individual has (but now only "had" in the distant past) the gift of tongues, the Spirit communicated directly to the person's spirit to produce then through the body the gospel message in the tongue in question. The result was twofold: 1) the message was a perfect one directly from the Spirit; 2) the person in question didn't understand the message even though he was the one ostensibly delivering it. Clearly it would encouraging and thus spiritually edifying in that sense for some to be used of the Spirit to produce a holy message, but Paul's point is that unless someone is around who speaks that language – or unless there is someone present with the gift of interpreting languages otherwise unknown to the person with that gift – there is no edification of anyone else because there is no understanding. For that reason, it is better, Paul assures us, in such circumstances to pray in one's own language (or at least in a language one understands), because understanding is obviously better than not understanding, both for those listening and also for the person doing the prayer, irrespective of the fact that it is at least at first a great encouragement to experience this wonderful power of the Spirit (at least it was when the gift was actually being given in the early days of the apostolic period).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

In one of your teachings or email, I noticed that you stated that the "Gift of tongues" is no longer valid for today? I think that is what you said. I have to say this, not being a bragging person, but I have been used by God in a number of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit referenced in 1 Cor. 12. If your statement is true, then what is it that we Pentecostals have, if speaking in tongues is not for the church today. What scripture can you give me that states that "Tongues are not for today". If this is true then I wonder what it is, and from what spirit we have this gift. A word of caution from a friend, be careful how you answer this question... I was prompted by the Lord today in prayer to ask you this question. Don't mean to be mean or rude when I ask you, but I need your biblical support for your answer. There are some "biblical" scholars that deny this gift, but I won't mention names, because you might possibly know of them. This brings me to another question that relates to my previous one. Is it your believe that "all" the gifts of the Holy Spirit" ceased when the last Apostle died, and if so, what Biblical references can you give me. I ask these questions in love for you brother, I mean, I really do what to know what you think, because I have learned much from you.

Always appreciate you, I really really do, for the work and toil you will be rewarded for.

To God be the Glory great things He has done.

Regardless of your answer, I will still love you, and cherish studying your material.

Response #14:   

On the issue of the gift of tongues, I have only ever taught that the category of gifts Paul says were going to cease in 1st Corinthians chapter thirteen have ceased (every believer is gifted in some way by the Spirit at salvation – just not in the areas which have now ceased). The "perfect", completed Bible has now arrived, so that the special gifts which helped bridge the gap at the inception of the Church age between necessary truth and a source for it became no longer needed at an early time. So I do have a whole chapter of scripture in support (just for example). To bring this back around to practical terms, one can debate all manner of theoretical things, but that is not necessarily the best use of our time when the matter truly is only theoretical. There is wealth of material posted at Ichthys dealing with this subject, but let me say that I have never met anyone who claimed to be able to speak at will in a definite, existent, human foreign language which they had never before heard or studied – at least no one who was then willing to give a demonstration and have it taped. That is clearly what the gift of tongues is (Acts chapter two) – real human languages capable of being understood – and also clearly why Paul insisted on having an interpreter present if anyone were to use the gift in a meeting (so all could understand) – something clearly impossible if the sounds produced are not an existing, genuine, human language.

So I offer you two alternatives on this if you want to discuss: 1) read what I have posted at Ichthys about this topic and I'll be happy to address the details; or 2) produce evidence of the actual functioning of the gift. If you can do the latter, you'll be the first I've ever seen or heard of in a lifetime of considering this issue.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Yes, I am familiar with 1 Corinthians 10-13.

1. This is the pat answer I always receive when someone is refuting the Gift of Tongues.

2. I believe it is conjecture to state that "that which perfect is come" refers to the Bilble.

I will admit that the Bible in the "Original Text Only" is a perfect text. But I believe that it is presumption to assume that this is what this text in 1 Cor. 10:13 is talking about, for it never really states what the perfect is.

There are other assumptions which can also be made of what the perfect is, namely:

a. Jesus, when He returns to earth at the Second Coming. He states in scripture: "Be ye perfect as I am perfect".

b. The New Heaven and New Earth will certainly be perfect.

c. As present, this world is not anywhere near perfect and never will be.

d. If your assumption is true, then why on the day of Pentecost did the Apostles speak in tongues, and everyone there heard them in their own languages?

e. The Bible, that is the Old Testament, was already written long before the Day of Pentecost, and is has come, and is perfect. Tongues never ceased when the Perfect Word of God was completed, the OT.

f. In Acts 2:38,39 which I know you are very familiar with says:

"38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

I call attention to those who is receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Verse 39, being The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.....

Acts 10:44 - "44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God."

Again, I know that I cannot convince anyone on the truth of the Gifts of the Spirit, because only the Holy Spirit can do that.

Just because you have never experienced "I have never met anyone who claimed to be able to speak in a definite, existent, human foreign language which they had never before heard or studied" but I have and know of many other believers have also.

I was taught many things in the Denominational Church, which I know today are not true, for I studied them myself. Case in point, The PreTrib rapture doctrine, I know is definitely heresy, for to begin with, I was sitting one day some 4 years ago in my study, reviewing this very subject, which I firmly believed, but may so-called Biblical? scholars and prophecy teachers taught, when suddenly the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the correct understanding of this doctrine, and I knew the truth.

One example I will share with you is that a Pastor's wife who I knew personally shared the following: I came upon an automobile accident today, and I was prompted to stop by the Holy Spirit. There was an injured young man who I had never met, and I asked him if he would like me to pray for him. He responded yes, so I began to pray in tongues. The next day I went to see him and see how he was doing. During my visit, he asked me where I learned the Spanish language, and I responded to him that I did not learn, neither did I speak that language. He remarked, oh but you were speaking as you were praying in perfect Spanish. The Pastor's wife was astonished. I can give you other instances that I have first hand experience with.

So, what is to be done with all the Pentecostal and Charismatics who do speak in tongues? Are we all wrong, are we all out of our minds, to be in something that you say is no longer available today, these are my questions?

I have been personally healed by a miracle of God, and have prayed for others who have also been healed by a miracle.

I just have to disagree with you that tongues, among the other gifts of the Spirit are not available today, because I have experienced most of them personally.

Maybe, you ought to ask God if I am wrong. My relatives have PHD's, but I have to say that they are blinded to the Spirit of God, because their education stands in there way. I am not implying this of you. Most of your teachings are excellent, but on this one I must totally and completely disagree with.

Hope you understand where I am coming from. I cannot deny what I have personally experienced. May the Holy Spirit of God guide you in all your studies.

[second email]

Correct me if I am misinterpreting what have said in your previous email concerning what you say about the cessation of the Gift of Tongues.

What I understand that you saying is:

1. All the people that "so-called" experienced this gift after the last Apostle died, whenever that was, did not receive this Gift of the Holy Spirit.

2. So what we have experienced is a fake and a fraud in your humble opinion.

3. No one who has ever been used in these nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, since the last Apostle died, was not the Gift of the Holy Spirit, but something that was not from God.

4. Well, I guess that all the gifts that God has used me in, were all fake and untrue, since as you said, they all ceased when the last Apostle died. They were only given when the "Church" has been adequately established.

As I said in my previous reply, it is of little use to study any of your dissertations on this subject, as you will never be able to convince me that what I received was not from God, and is a fraud.

I will however, continue to review your other studies. I have been praying for you that God would allow you to experience this Gift, so that you will know for sure that it is not a fake. Your "Theological" stand on this subject has really saddened me, but I will continue on anyway, regardless of that fact.

Love in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Response #15: 

I'll do my best here to respond to the many different questions/observations in these two emails, but apologies in advance for anything missed. Do feel free to write back.

To begin, I'm sorry if I have upset you. My job is to teach the truth regardless of who is upset by it. Few people come to this ministry without being upset by something or other because it strives to embrace all the teachings of the Bible, and there is always at least something that will rub a person the wrong way. I certainly had to change some of my views when I began to look into scripture in a serious way. As I often observe – and since you use it as a point of comparison – I came up under and cut my theological teeth on a pre-Trib model, and it was in the course of trying to defend it from scripture that I realized that it was in complete error. But I didn't let it upset me. I opted to go with the scripture and the Spirit rather than with the tradition and the wishes of others. I know I made the right call. On this point, I would observe that you have found many if not most of the teachings of this ministry to be helpful and true. It is certainly possible that on this one point alone I am "dead wrong", but please do consider that to the extent that you feel that the rest of the teachings here are correct, to that extent you ought to consider giving me the benefit of the doubt on this one too, at least to the point of being open to what I am saying. That certainly makes sense from a plain common-sense point of view, but also from a more subtle one: scripture is the truth, and any system of understanding/teaching the Bible which is mostly correct can only be so because each part informs the other. Anything terribly wrong will tend to detract from everything else, and if most things are correct they will tend to adjust anything which is out of line into the orbit of the truth – that's the way the Spirit works . . . for those who are really willing to listen to His still, small voice.

On to your points (and please keep in mind that these are quick responses; there is much more detail at the site):

1. "Pat answers". An entire chapter of scripture, placed between two other chapters of scripture where the issue is also discussed, is not to be so easily dismissed as merely a "pat answer" – how much scripture do you need to believe something is true? Paul says "tongues will cease" (along with the gifts of prophecy and knowledge) in the context of comparing tongues unfavorably to love in the first verse. Note that all three "going to cease" gifts are communication gifts which serve the purpose of providing truth to the assembly without the gifted person having to study or learn languages or go to seminary, etc. In other words, all three gifts about to cease were necessary before a cadre of men with the gift of teaching who were prepared to teach and an infrastructure to prepare men with the gift of teaching was available; the miraculous communications gifts (tongues, prophecy, interpretation, etc.) were at that time needful for those early believers to hear and then to learn the truth before the entire truth of scripture became available in the completed Bible. Afterwards, however, such gifts would be potential detriments to the Church because, well, why would person A go to the trouble of spending twenty years preparing to teach the Bible if person B is given this on a silver platter – and why should he? For in that scenario person A might make a mistake but person B is being used essentially as a mouthpiece for the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul demands interpreters be present when someone with the (genuine) gift of tongues is speaking, namely, so that the message from the Spirit may be understood.

2. "The perfect" has to mean something. "The perfect" is clearly being contrasted by Paul to communication gifts which are going to cease when it comes. "The perfect" is a complete communication as opposed to the "in part" communication it replaces. "The perfect" is for the time of adulthood not for that of childhood, and that time of adulthood is certainly something Paul seems to commend here as possible in this life. Finally here, if "the perfect" is not the Bible, where does the Bible fit in to this discussion of partial communication of the truth yielding to a complete and "perfect" communication of everything God wants us to know in this life? Since we agree that it is in fact the Bible which is the one and only source of God's message for us and has been since the passing of the apostles, it would seem to me that the Bible is so clearly the most likely candidate for "the perfect" [receptacle of truth] as opposed to the partial [means then filling the void in the meantime], that it is indeed the Bible which has to be disproved as not being "the perfect" by any and all who do not want to accept this obvious interpretation. In other words, in my humble opinion presumption is on the other foot here.

2a. The word in Greek is neuter and singular. Jesus is masculine. We are too (grammatically, including women believers), and we are plural as well. Apart from the fact that there is no parallel in scripture for this sort of wording referring to any person or persons, it is grammatically impossible.

2b. They are plural (so the grammar wouldn't work); and as in the preceding sub-point, neither we (holy though we might be) nor the new heavens and new earth are comparable communicators of the truth to balance the removal of the partial communication supplied by tongues, prophecy and knowledge.

2c. The world doesn't have to be perfect to contain something perfect. The Lord is/was perfect; everything He does is perfect. The Bible is His perfect communication of truth to the world.

2d. Acts 1:15 says that there were "about 150" believers assembled at the event there described. We don't know how many there were at Pentecost (it doesn't say), but there were more than eleven. So when I read that someone born in Parthia heard the gospel in Parthian (Farsi?), I take it that one of the believers was given to speak in Parthian/Farsi; and when I read that someone from Cappadocia heard the gospel in Cappadocian, I understand that likewise one of the brothers was given to speak in Cappadocian; etc., etc. These people heard the gospel in their own languages, real truth given for the real purpose of evangelism in a real language spoken by the recipient but not by the intermediary except through the miracle of tongues. And of course this was also a sign – one of the other purposes of tongues, namely, to let Israel know that the gospel was now being dispensed to the gentiles as well (1Cor.14:22). So to me it is very clear what the gift is – from this passage alone. The question is whether or not the gift is still being given today. It is not, and that is why we do not see anyone being evangelized with it or anyone who claims to have it providing otherwise very easily produced proof of it (everything else is on YouTube, after all).

2e. The Bible is the entire Bible. The OT is an important part but only a part. There is no major doctrine I know of which would be lost if we did not have the OT, but there are many new revelations in the NT which are only foreshadowed in the OT. Without the New Testament, the Bible clearly is not "complete" – and that is what "perfect" really means in the Greek of 1Cor.13:10 (and also even in the Latin etymology of "perfect").

2f. At Pentecost and at the so-called "gentile Pentecost" the gift of the Spirit was accompanied by overtly miraculous events. There are many places later in Acts where that is not the case when people are saved. The fact that God made this statement at the original gift of the Spirit to the Jewish believers (Acts 2) and also in the case of the first mass conversion of gentile believers (Acts 10) is a historical fact. That does not mean that it is something which happens whenever a person believes from that point onward (otherwise we would certainly see it elsewhere in Acts), nor far less that there is some sort of "second baptism" or special gifting of the Spirit which some have today as believers and some do not. That is contrary to scripture (e.g., Rom.8:9 where we are told that without the Spirit we do not even belong to Christ). The Spirit works in powerful but usually invisible ways. The dramatic events of these two outpourings have not generally been repeated, not even in the time of the apostles.

[3.] Experience. If I experience something I know is contrary to scripture, I would hope that I would choose to believe scripture rather than my experience (e.g., Gal.1:8). Experiences can be misinterpreted easily enough. The truth of scripture offers all the answers we need for those who pursue it diligently. I have often heard stories such as the one you relate. However, 1) you were not there; you are reporting something third-hand; third-hand reports are always different from what actually happened to some degree; the only question is the degree; and in this case a small phrasing or misunderstanding could change the entire picture; 2) people, even good people, sometimes "elaborate" (with good intentions) . . . to the point where the impression of the story is so far different from what "really happened" as to make these effectively two different things; 3) Even if person A is relating things correctly, person B could have said what person B said to be nice or for some other reason; 4) since we have a language barrier here in whole or in part, it's possible that someone misunderstood someone; 5) with so many moving parts and with so many points removed from "what happened", there is always the possibility of another explanation . . . apart from an actual gift / use of tongues. Why would someone wish to jump to the conclusion based on this that "the gift of tongues is being given today" unless he/she already had a vested interest in believing that conclusion? I'm not against the gift. What a wonderful gift! I wish I had it! I wish all believers had it! What I am not willing to do is make it up or pretend. That is dangerous and wrong. I understand the temptation, believe me, but it's better to be sad and upset . . . for a time . . . than to be wrong about something like this. I love the apostles. Doesn't make me one – not even if I claim it, not even if I convince myself of it, not even if I convince you.

5. [1. in #2] I don't know of any claims to have the gift of tongues after the apostles died until the twentieth century, and I have never seen any substantive proof of genuine tongues from those who have claimed it since. God can give this gift to whomever He wishes and it is a legitimate gift which we know was given in the early days of the Church. This is a question of fact. Either God has given sister X the gift of tongues or He has not. If He has not, and sister X claims it anyway, that is a dangerous thing, spiritually speaking. But I am certainly not obligated to believe that sister X has the gift on tongues just because she claims she has it – and especially not if I have read the appropriate passages of scripture, and most especially not if I have heard some sound, substantive teaching on the matter. Overtly miraculous gifts are fascinating; we all want them and we all want to see them. Even Herod wanted to see Christ so as to be entertained by His miracle-working. But just because we want these gifts, want to see them operate, and want to be benefitted by them does not make them really present if they are not really present. God does or does not give particular gifts. That is the Spirit's prerogative, not ours.

6. [2. in #2] I'm not going to judge anyone on this. God can give this or any other gift. Moreover, God can certainly empower any believer to have special knowledge in a critical situation if that is needful and His will – or to heal someone in a miraculous way; the fact that He does so all the time does not mean that someone has the gift of healing as e.g., Peter and Paul did for a time. Moreover, God does miracles all the time, regardless of whether they seem miraculous to us or whether or not we recognize them. I will observe that if every single person who claims to have this gift and to be legitimately speaking in tongues really does have it and really is speaking in tongues in the biblical sense, it seems very odd to me that the practice is not so ubiquitous as to render this discussion moot. On the first Pentecost, the believers evangelized the whole assembled crowd in their own languages. Why don't we see believers who have language Y evangelizing people who are native Y speakers? That's the essential purpose of the gift, as on the first Pentecost. It's not even necessary to go to country Y since there are very few languages in the world which don't have numerous enough immigrants to this country.

7. [3. in #2] What nine gifts are you referring to? Of course the Spirit is still giving gifts. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift (please see the link in BB 5 Pneumatology, "Spiritual Gifts"). What has apparently "ceased" are special gifts of communication which allow dissemination of the truth without any special preparation – ceased so as to encourage people to prepare in a right and godly way, no doubt – as well as special gifts designed to attract attention to the gospel through their miraculous nature: the rationale behind tongues and healing, after all, was to gain a hearing for the gospel. Today, evangelism has to be done through witnessing the truth the hard way, so that the miracles happen on the inside, not the outside.

8. [3. in #2] See prior point. I don't know what gifts you have been given, but you have been gifted. What all spiritual gifts given today have in common is their purpose: the edification of the Church through direct communication of the truth (pastor-teacher, evangelist) or through supporting that communication in the assembly of believers (helps, administration, etc.).

[9.] "you will never be able to convince me that what I received was not from God": I don't know to what you are referring. You are clearly a believer, so you have received the gift of salvation through faith in the Gift of Gifts, Jesus Christ. And you have at least one spiritual gift given to you by the Spirit when you were saved (1Cor.12:7), so that after spiritual growth and testing/progress you might contribute to the growth of the Body of Christ through direct communication of the truth or support thereof (most gifts today fall into the second grouping; see prior link).

I can certainly affirm the feeling of ecstatic joy in turning to the Lord . . . and in turning back to Him. I would never wish to diminish the joy in the Lord that all believers should feel – not just charismatics. And I also know from experience that the closer this joy hews to the absolute truth, the more lasting and deep it will be; however the more it relies on emotion and pretending things are which aren't, the more brittle and ephemeral it will be. And that isn't good for anyone. So I have no desire to convince you of anything which is untrue – far from it. I am concerned for any brother or sister who is intent on believing anything which is not true.

It's all about the truth, and the truth is in the Bible, not necessarily in what we may experience.

(16) For I did not follow concocted tales in making known to you the power and the coming return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but was an eyewitness to His majesty. (17) For when He had received honor and glory from God the Father, these words sounded forth to Him from God's majestic glory: "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased." (18) And these words I myself heard as they were delivered from heaven, for I was with Him on the holy mountain (cf. Matt.17:1-8). (19) Yet I consider the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) even more reliable (i.e., than what I saw with my own eyes). You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns), (20) pondering in your hearts this principle of prime importance: no single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. (21) For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:16-21

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Pastor Omo also gave a very interesting interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:21 (NASB):

21 In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me," says the Lord.

He associates here Isaiah's words quoted here by Paul with foreign languages being a sign of discipline for ancient Israel - because of unbelief. For example foreign invaders would speak foreign language, which was a discipline for Israel's unbelief. What do you think of such a take?

Response #16:   

Sounds good to me! The final fulfillment of this prophecy however comes with the gift of tongues as the passage makes clear.

Question #17: 

In lesson 8 of his Intermediate Bible Training (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSgIzstz-vk), pastor Omo discusses the meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:10 and proposes that "the perfect" is a reference to our Lord's millennial kingdom. I would be curious about your take on this interpretation.

Response #17:   

As you probably know, I take "the perfect" to be first and foremost, in this context, the completed canon of the Bible which, when it comes, will take away the necessity for the short-lived miraculous-communication gifts discussed in the context. There is a sense, of course, in which this verse does look forward to the time when "I shall know even as I am known" (v.12), and that happens when we enter eternity (at death or at our Lord's return), but the fundamental reason for Paul bringing in "the perfect thing" here is in counterpoint to the partial tongues, knowledge and prophecy of verse nine which, when the perfect comes, will be done away with. That "doing away with" is something that cannot be let slip from the mind for anyone who wants to interpret this passage. It's not merely an aside but the whole reason for this turn of Paul's argument (tongues in particular is a major topic of discussion in both the preceding and following chapters), and can only mean the cessation of the gifts which were being abused and which were discussed in verse eight as being on the point of cessation.  Please see the link: "The Perfect"

Question #18:

Hey Bob I wanted to let you know I still go back and read our emails and they've really been helpful to me. They're encouraging and make sense. I also wanted to tell you I really appreciate all of your help and concern. I feel like a lot of times sometimes we feel like people forget any help we've given them and I feel like it's always nice to be reminded and appreciated, so I just wanted to remind you that you have been a blessing to me. And I hope everything is going great for you, and that God continues to bless you, and pour out his love on you!

Thanks again Bob

Response #18: 

I really appreciate your good words and encouragement. Truly, they mean a lot. I keep you in my prayers day by day, my friend, and trust that the Lord is continuing to lead you forward to ever greater spiritual heights for a good reward and for the mutual blessing and edification of His Church.

Your friend in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Dr. Luginbill,

I don't remember how I came across your site, but it was about 18 months ago. I grew up in the church, and took Christ for granted for most of my life. Two and a half years ago I came to the conclusion that if I believed what I claimed to believe my life would be very different.

I've read Satanic Rebellion, Bible basics, most of The Coming Tribulation and am just getting started on the Peter series. I love them all. You've been a blessing to my walk, I appreciate your work. I just wanted to say thank you.

Response #19:   

It's very good to make your acquaintance. Thanks for this encouraging email, my friend. I hope to meet and greet you as we wait before the judgment seat of Christ if not before – and hope to be cheering you on as you are awarded your crowns.

Keeping fighting the fight, and do feel free to write me any time.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

 

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