Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19)
Even in Corinth during the early church, believers had a tendency to lust after the more showy Spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Tongues were actual languages believers could spontaneously utter, not having studied or having any knowledge of the language at all, yet could speak it perfectly. This was a sign to unbelievers, a fulfillment of a prophecy given in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28:11).
However today, tongues are seen to be a babbling gibberish that comes directly from heaven and falls out of the mouth, (to the edification of no one) thereby bypassing the mind. However this is not correct.
“Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind.”
There are many spiritual activities today that directly exclude the mind. Contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) excludes the mind. How can this be? We are told to contemplate the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 48:9), so contemplation is good. We are told to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13), so prayer is good. How can both terms together not be doubly good? In the words of the inimitable Inigo Montoya,
THIS is how the unstable twist truth to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). Putting together two commonly understood words but using them in a different way than is commonly understood is a bible twist. For example, praying mindlessly. Putting words together that are commonly understood but creating a different context for them through continued spiritual activity is another way that the truth is twisted. For example, babbling mindlessly.
So the “modern version” of tongues bypasses the mind, and contemplative prayer bypasses the mind, and neither are valid spiritual activities grounded in biblical truth. Another activity where the mind is bypassed is what the Southern Baptist Convention calls a ‘private prayer language‘ AKA modern gibberish tongues uttered in the closet while praying. The notion is that when a person prays, God will sometimes utter gibberish that the speaker knows not the meaning of but is a direct communication between the Spirit indwelling the person and Jesus up above. Private prayer languages were explained (or attempted to be explained) back in 2006 when the SBC originally banned potential applicant missionaries if they confessed to speaking in glossolalia either public or private:
IMB board of trustees chairman Tom Hatley said that during candidate interviews, those who practiced a private prayer language gave differing explanations of it, varying from an angelic language to a “revelatory” gift of the Holy Spirit.
Thinking is what clicks ON the Light
So, they don’t really know what it is, only that they do it. All the more reason to refuse to accept it. Unfortunately last week the SBC re-accepted the applications of potential missionaries who pray in gibberish. Sad. Tongues being gibberish isn’t supported by the Bible, the transformation of the biblical gift of tongues from a known language to today’s gibberish in modern times isn’t supported by the Bible, either. Possessing a Spiritual Gift and only using it for personal use isn’t supported by the Bible. Employing a Spiritual gift through the heart or body only and not the mind also, isn’t supported by the Bible. A Christian’s walk uses the mind AND the heart.
Let’s see what the Bible says about the mind.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).
and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (Ephesians 4:23).
Gill’s Exposition explains that after salvation/justification, the “progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds,” i.e renewing the mind obviously includes the mind.
but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:23)
Gill’s again, says that “the new nature in us, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, is called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there;” Our transformation begins in the mind.
The heart is transformed, surely, but the governing principle is the mind. The new mind is equivalent to the new inner self. We have the mind of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Whenever you encounter an activity that exults in the fact that the mind is emptied, bypassed, marginalized, or in any way not fully engaged, it is a wrong activity. Because God’s transformation of us begins in the mind, bypassing the mind is actually choosing to bypass His sanctifying efforts in us. Not only will we not increase in sanctification through contemplative prayer, speaking in gibbering tongues, uttering private prayer languages, walking prayer circles or labyrinths, chanting mantras, barking holy laughter, doing “holy” yoga, seeking visions in trances, any of that which denies the mind is actually denying the mind of Christ. These activities exalt the self because you are indulging the fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18).
Back to the title, which is a quote from John MacArthur. The Bible shows us that sanctification involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind. Beware of activities that sound spiritual, but aren’t. You will know they aren’t healthy for you if they exclude the mind.
Yesterday I wrote the beginning of a look at the question “Are the miracle spiritual gifts for today?” I noted that a controversy exists. People who say that the miracle sign gifts have stopped with the deaths of the Apostles are cessationists (miracle gifts have ceased). People who say that miracles and prophecies and tongues and healings happen today, and that they have never stopped, are continuationists.
I also noted that the controversy is based on a biblical belief that’s not a part of the essential doctrines of saving faith, so we need to have grace when discussing these.
I have friends who are in or who came from circles where it was taught or demonstrated that the miracle gifts are a normal part of Christian walk. As I explore whether the miracle spiritual gifts have stopped or not, I plan to make it a biblical exploration. Please do not consider this an attack on any person’s particular faith or denomination. I want to soberly take a look at the question, but I know that in so doing, the fact that so many people have had an experience which is tied to their emotions, they may react emotionally. Let’s just put Jesus in the center and discern His word, with full assurance from me that this discussion is from the heart and not a jab at any person’s salvation or any particular denomination’s legitimacy.
In the last post I posed the question and offered scriptures that indicate that the sign gifts of ‘tongues’, interpretation of tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecies healing, seemed to have the strongest biblical position as having stopped with the death of the Apostles. Most discussions about the miracle gifts center around a misunderstanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, and a misunderstanding of why the miracle gifts were given in the first place. You can refer back to that part for the biblical discussion for more information. Personally I do not believe the sign gifts are continuing in the church age.
Yet so many people today wonder about being Spirit-filled, or being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” and if it is a separate event from the regenerating work.
Others wonder about “praying in the Spirit”?
Still others wonder about praying in tongues?
We see a lot of external manifestation of these on television and at revivals of different sorts. This is confusing people. They wonder what is real and what is not.
Let’s take a look at “tongues.”
My understanding of the biblical meaning of speaking in tongues is that the sermon at Pentecost miraculously delivered unto the disciples an ability to speak in the same language as the multitudes that had gathered from the nations for Passover. The annual pilgrimage swelled the walls of Jerusalem because so many people came from so many nations. They all spoke different languages. The disciples didn’t have time to go to a mission college and take two years to learn Arabic, the Lord delivered to them an ability to speak in Persian, and Cyrillic and Greek and all the other languages of the day- instantly. It was NOT a baby talk gibberish! Look at the verses:
“And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:6-11 ESV).
The Lord opened up their mind so they would be able to preach to the Gentiles who had traveled there from far places for the Passover. They spoke each in their own language so the visitors could hear the Gospel message. It could not be clearer. It means native language, not a gibberish language.
So what did Paul mean in 1st Corinthians when he said,
“Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” (1 Corinthians 14:5)
The same thing. The word for tongues is glossa, and it is defined by Strong’s in the Greek as, “a language, a nation (usually distinguished by their speech).”
How could all those people who spoke other languages understand and be saved if it was in gibberish??? Did the Lord deliver gibberish unto Peter and to Thomas an ability understand Peter’s gibberish and to translate? And to translate into what language? The Acts verse states there were people from at least 15 different countries present. It was not gibberish.
Let’s take a look at the history of languages and the Lord. Before Nimrod built the tower at Babel, the world had one language. “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.” (Genesis 11:1)
Note that they not only had the same language, but the same words. Same words means same vocabulary. Britons and Americans share a language today but not the same vocabulary words. Boot/trunk, roundabout/rotary, queue/line, like that. But in the early days of history all people understood each other perfectly, with no linguistic variations, no dialects, and no difference in vocabulary.
Then the LORD confused the languages as the men built the tower, and dispersed them over the world. “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7).
He will reverse that in the end. Zephaniah 3:9 prophesies: ““For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.”
The word in Genesis for “confused language” and the word in Zephaniah for “same language”, is the same: language=saphah.
He confused the languages at Babel… so why can’t he make those languages understandable at Pentecost? He did. And it seems that Zephaniah 3:10 speaks to the possibility of one language again at the very end.
So the Lord opened up their mind to give them instant ability to speak and interpret languages. That is so wonderful!
Tongues means language. It cannot be clearer. Now that we have a biblical understanding of tongues, does the spiritual gift of instantly understanding another’s language remain in force today? It does not seem so. We can understand that the miracle of speaking instantly in other languages is ceased for now by implicit position because missionaries aren’t given that miracle. They go to school and learn the language the regular way, lol. I know of one missionary who is in Jordan right now wishing she could be instantly delivered into an ability to speak Arabic! But no, she is slogging through the old fashioned way.
The Pentecostals in particular have perverted the notion of “tongues”. The proper understanding of tongues is languages, but they take it to mean something completely unbiblical. They have created a Gnostic approach to the faith by instituting a multi-leveled maturity. The Gnostics claim that they have special wisdom and understanding that is higher than the regular Christian. Not so. But Pentecostals say, “You’re not really a Christian unless you demonstrate tongues…” This is false. (1 Corinthians 12: 29-30, 1 Cor 14:23). You are saved by grace when you repent and believe on the name of the resurrected Jesus. No tongues necessary.
Justin Peters has a multi-part discernment series titled “A Call For Discernment“. In his updated lesson from July 2012, he notes the verse in 1 Corinthians 14:20-22, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.”
In the OT, the way the Hebrews knew the hammer judgment of God was about to come down would be when they looked up and saw many foreign people speaking to them foreign language. Paul referred to it when he said’ it is written in the Law’, it is found in Isaiah 28:11. When the men in Acts at Pentecost began to speak in foreign tongues it was the same indicator, that judgment was here. God’s salvific gaze shifted from the Jews to the Gentiles, where His gaze remains to this day. One day, His salvific gaze will return to Israel. But back then and up to today, His judgment is that the Jews remain in judgment, hardened to his salvation offer.
If a person says they speak in tongues as a private prayer language, that has no biblical support either. The gifts are given by the Spirit for the edification of the body, not for personal, private use. The gifts are for the common good. (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10).
“If the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for the purpose of communicating God’s Word with a person of another language (Acts 2:6-12). It would be in agreement with the command God gave through the apostle Paul, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). It would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” … The vast majority of believers who claim to practice the gift of speaking in tongues do not do so in agreement with the Scriptures mentioned above.” (source)
So they misunderstand it to begin with and then apply it incorrectly, thus continuing the error.
It always goes back to the Holy Spirit because He is the One who distributes the gifts, and the gifts are supposed to testify to Jesus. Art Azurdia speaking at a Discernment Conference said he has seen an evolution in things said about the Holy Spirit:
40 years ago: Come and get a ‘second blessing’ 35 years ago: Come and get baptized with the Holy Spirit 25 years ago: Come and get slain by the Holy Spirit 20 years ago: Come and get blasted by the Holy Spirit 15 years ago: Come and laugh in the Holy Spirit 10 years ago: Come and vomit in the Holy Spirit Today: Come and get punched in the Holy Spirit
The “Charismatic Chaos” that the misapplication of the continuation of the miraculous gifts has bestowed is confusion, doubt, mockery, and just plain silliness. These in turn have raised concerns. Azurdia said, “A pastoral concern is that the spiritual development of well-meaning Christians easily falls prey to law of diminishing returns. Today’s enthusiasm becomes tomorrow’s bore. Today’s spiritual ecstasy this week will need to be out-done next week. You’ve seen it, the ordinary gives way to the unusual, the unusual gives way to the extreme, the extreme gives way to the ridiculous, and eventually it always leads to the same end: emptiness.”
Azurdia said a doctrinal issue arises after the pastoral issue. The gifts have become Christian-centered rather than Christ centered.
Azurdia said, “It’s about meeee, and getting those goosebumps on the back of my neck. And yet, it is as clear as can be. The Holy ambition of the Spirit of God is to reveal and glorify Jesus Christ.”
Arthur Johnson, in his excellent expose of mysticism, entitled, “Faith Misguided”, a very good book, calls the Charismatic movement, “The zenith of mysticism,” and he does so with good reason, because there is the desire, in some cases and through some experiences, to switch off the mind and disconnect yourself from what is rational, and reasonable, and logical.” (source)
If the miracle gift of tongues is ceased, and if it was a language and not gibberish anyway, what is all this flailing around in tongues?
Fakery. Self-delusion. Satanic trickery. Misplaced emotion. Whatever you would like to call it, it does not glorify God because it is not biblical, orderly, edifying, or Jesus honoring.
How can I say that so definitively? Because we’re told in many passages the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus. The gifts are given to bear witness of Jesus, to build His church. Not to sow confusion, spread doubt, or create second class citizens separated from from each other by man-made, artificial levels of maturity.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)
Do you think the Spirit is bearing witness about Jesus in the clip below?
If you have been told that you are not saved until you pass some man-made benchmark of maturity, or not until you demonstrate a man-made level of holiness, or not until you show you have an insider track on tongues or being slain or getting a second blessing, then I am sorry. I grieve for you, but we can rejoice now in knowing that the bible declares you saved when you repent and believe.
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here is a good series on the Gifts and the Ministry of the Holy Spirit:
EDITED to add this link: it is a short, clear, concise essay demonstrating the original purpose for speaking in different languages, and scripturally showing how and why tongues have ceased. “The gift of tongues“