"Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away" (1 Cor. 13:8).
IN our times some Christian believers lay great emphasis on "speaking in tongues," claiming it is sure proof that they have received the Holy Spirit and are children of God. They are usually inclined to esteem less other Christian believers who have not had like experiences, and to awaken serious doubts in them that they have ever really become children of God. Therefore we believe our readers will profit by a consideration of this "tongues" subject, in the light of the teachings of the Scriptures.
In the New Testament record, the first marked miraculous manifestation of "speaking with other tongues" occurred at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus' ascension, when the waiting disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit; it resulted in Jews of many lands hearing the preaching in their own languages of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:1-11).
A supplementary baptism with the Holy Spirit upon the Church, with a similar marked miraculous manifestation of speaking with tongues, occurred 3½ years later in Caesarea, when the first Gentiles—Cornelius and his household—were received into the Body of Christ (Acts 10:44-47; 11:15).
Other manifestations of speaking with tongues came upon the early Church only through the laying on of hands by one or more of the twelve Apostles (Acts 8:14-18; 19:6).
The gift of "tongues" is listed with other "gifts" of the Spirit in 1 Cor. 12:4-11 (comp. vs. 28-30) and is referred to also in 1 Cor. 13 and 14, where the Apostle explains quite thoroughly its inferiority to charity (unselfish, disinterested love) and to prophesying (in the sense of public expounding, public speaking). We are to distinguish sharply between the Holy Spirit itself and these miraculous "gifts" or manifestations granted to the early Church. As the Apostle explained (1 Cor. 12:4): "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit": also (v. 5): "There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord."
Thus there is a difference of administration of God's Holy Spirit in the Church today: whereas "gifts" of the kind there mentioned were general in the early Church, the day came, as the Apostle in our text explained that it would come, when the gift of prophecy under the power of God's Holy Spirit would fail, the miraculous gift of "speaking in tongues" would cease, and special inspirations of knowledge would vanish away. All of these "gifts" were necessary at the inauguration of the Church, at the beginning of the new Age, when the Church was in its infancy (1 Cor. 13:11), and the Bible had not yet been fully given; but they became unnecessary after the Church had been established and the canon of the inspired writings had been completed—which writings, the Apostle declares, are sufficient, "that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
The miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit differed from the "fruits" of the Spirit, like faith, hope and love. Apart from the two outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, already mentioned, in which the Apostle Peter used the two keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19), to open it (1) to the Jews and (2) to the Gentiles, and in which also the miraculous "gifts" came spontaneously, these "gifts" were never given except by the laying on of hands by one or more of the twelve Apostles.
Simon Magus, though baptized and granted a "gift" for his own use, was unable to confer the "gifts" to others and was rebuked by the Apostle Peter for offering money to obtain this purely Apostolic power (Acts 8:13-21). The same account makes clear that even Philip the Evangelist, though able to perform "miracles and signs," could not confer the "gifts" of the Spirit, but was obliged to send for Apostles to do this for his converts. Likewise, the disciples at Ephesus did not receive the miraculous "gifts" until after the Apostle Paul had laid his hands on them (Acts 19:1-6).
ONLY APOSTLES COULD CONFER "GIFTS"
We search the Bible in vain for the record of anyone other than an Apostle conferring the "gifts" of the Spirit. If this were not an exclusively Apostolic power, St. Paul could not have appealed to his exercising it as a proof of his Apostleship (Gal. 3:5), in his argument in defense of his Apostolic office (Gal. 1:11—3:5). Since, therefore, the only human instruments through whom God bestowed the "gifts" of the Spirit were the Apostles, it follows that when the last disciple died on whom an Apostle had conferred these "gifts," these "gifts" then ceased to exist. St. John, the last Apostle and the writer of the last books of the Bible to be written, died just before the end of the first century. Therefore these "gifts" ceased within about a generation afterwards.
All of this agrees fully with St. Paul's statement that the miraculous "gifts" would fail, cease, vanish away. It was necessarily so when, the twelve Apostles all having died, all those upon whom they had conferred these "gifts" died also. Faith, hope and love, which the Apostle declared would abide, are not miraculously-bestowed "gifts," but personally-developed growths, or "fruits," as he indicates elsewhere (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:11), and are to be esteemed much more highly. Hence he says, "Covet earnestly the best gifts and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge … and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 12:31; 13:1, 2; comp. Col. 3:14; 1 Pet. 4:8).
The Apostle points out also (1 Cor. 14:22) that "speaking in tongues" was given for a sign, that the attention of unbelievers might be drawn to the Church and her methods. And this miraculous "gift," therefore, which was very highly esteemed and sought after by some of the Corinthians, he points out as being one of the least spiritual—adapted less to the development of the spiritual Church, and chiefly useful in connection with the unregenerate world. This miraculous "gift," and others of a somewhat similar class, disappeared forever from the Church after she had obtained a footing, and a recognition in the world, and after the twelve Apostles, who alone had the power to confer these "gifts," and those upon whom they had conferred them, had died.
ONLY THE TWELVE IN THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE
Nor has there been, nor will there ever be, anyone except the Twelve in the Apostolic office (Rev. 21:14). All others claiming to have this office are unauthorized by God (Rev. 2:2). The choice of Matthias by the disciples during the time between our Lord's ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, for which they had been instructed to wait (Acts 1:4, 5, 15-26), was never authorized nor recognized by God. Though He never reproved them for it, it was contrary to His arrangement, for He reserved to Himself the right to choose the Apostles, having selected the original twelve through Jesus (John 15:16), and bringing forth St. Paul in due time (Gal. 1:15; 2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11) to take Judas' place as one of the twelve Apostles. (For more Bible proofs that the Apostolic office was for the Twelve only, see B.S. No. 325—a copy free.)
While special signs, e.g., miraculous "speaking in tongues" and taking up serpents without being harmed thereby (see, e.g., Acts 28:3-5), did follow believers at the beginning of the Gospel Age, it is evident that they do not do so in our day. Believers of our day cannot take up poisonous serpents without danger of fatal results, as is evidenced, e.g., by the fact that some who handle them at religious meetings in our day are bitten and die. Therefore it is evident that Mark 16:17-18 could apply only to the time of the Church's history when the miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit were with the Church, in the first two centuries. (For details, please see our "Faith Healing" booklet—a copy free.)
THE EARLY CHURCH'S CHILDHOOD
Just as in nature, "the earth bringeth forth," "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear," "so is the kingdom of God" (Mark 4:26-28); and as there is first the infant and child, and afterward the full-grown adult, so in the early Christian Church as a whole there was a gradual growth or development. First there was the infant and childhood stage, beginning at Pentecost, and continuing for about a century, when the early Church had the "gifts" of the Spirit—miraculous physical healings, prophesyings, "speaking in tongues," interpretation of tongues, etc.—and good use was made of these "gifts" during that childhood stage in witnessing the Gospel message to people of various languages, and in assisting the brethren, who did not then have the Bible in its completeness.
But when the Bible had been fully given, so that the man of God was "thoroughly furnished unto all good works," the early Church had reached the full-grown adult stage, and the "gifts," that had been very useful in the childhood stage, then ceased, failed, passed away. We are not now to seek for the lispings and prattlings of the early Church's infancy and childhood. Nor are we to be content with the "milk" diet of undeveloped Christians, many of whom are still largely carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 5:12-14); we are rather to make it a stepping-stone, a means whereby we can progress to using a "strong meat" diet, whereby we can "go on unto perfection" (Heb. 6:1-3).
THE TRANSITORINESS OF THE SPIRIT'S "GIFTS"
The Apostle Paul contrasts the transitoriness of the "gifts" of the Spirit, as belonging to the time when God's revelation was incomplete, with the permanence of faith, hope and love, which would remain throughout the Gospel Age, especially in the end of the Age, when that revelation would be completely understood. He says (1 Cor. 13:8-13): "Charity [love] never faileth [never will cease]: but whether there be prophecies [one of the 'gifts' of the Spirit—1 Cor. 13:2; 1 Cor. 12:10], they shall fail [cease to be exercised as one of the Spirit's 'gifts']; whether there be tongues [another 'gift' of the Spirit—1 Cor. 13:1], they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [another 'gift' of the Spirit—1 Cor. 13:2; 1 Cor. 12:8], it shall vanish away. For we know in [on account of a] part [only a part of the Bible having then been given], and we prophesy in part [the believers' having in the beginning of the Gospel Age these 'gifts' was due to the Bible's not yet then having been fully given; and thus the 'gifts' were to supplement the incompleted revelation]. But when that which is perfect [complete, i.e., the completed Bible] is come, then that [the 'gifts' of the Spirit] which is [exists] in [on account of a] part [only a part of the Bible having then been given] shall be done away [the 'gifts' were to cease after the Bible's completion]."
The Apostle then proceeds to illustrate this by the things of childhood that are put away as unsuitable to manhood, when one is grown up: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought [reasoned] as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things [i.e., the 'gifts' of the Spirit, which pertained to the early Church's childhood, not to its manhood—its matured state]. For now [in the Apostle's day] we see through a glass [through a dim window — Rotherham; not our modern clear glass, but thin plates of horn, transparent stone, etc., through which one could see but dimly, obscurely], darkly [the revelation of the Bible was not yet complete, nor was all of the part so far given clearly understood]; but then [in the end of the Gospel Age—its Harvest] face to face [Isa. 52:8]: now I [the Church] know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now [throughout the Gospel Age, the day of the Church's salvation—2 Cor. 6:2] abideth [in contrast with the passing away of the 'gifts' of the Spirit—the power of healing, which was one of the 'gifts'—1 Cor. 12:7-11, the working of miracles, speaking in tongues, etc.—1 Cor. 13:8] faith, hope, charity, these three."
MODERN-DAY "SPEAKING IN TONGUES"
But some may inquire: If, after the death of the Apostles and those upon whom they had laid their hands, the miraculous gift of "speaking in tongues" ceased forever, as the inspired Word of God indicated would be the case, why is it that "speaking in tongues" is in our day being featured at certain religious meetings and claimed by some as an evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
We realize, of course, as our "tongues-speaking" brethren would likely also agree, that it is easy for someone to make believe that he or she is "speaking in tongues" by going through certain motions and uttering something in another language, or some unintelligible gibberish, and that this kind of hypocrisy is sometimes practiced, with the result that some are deceived thereby.
However, we recognize that such hypocrisy is surely not practiced by all who claim to "speak in tongues," and we do not desire to reflect against the sincerity or earnestness of any of our dear Christian brethren. Nevertheless, we believe that those sincere Christians who now claim to receive from God through His Holy Spirit the miraculous power to speak in tongues are laboring under a delusion—that what they believe to be speaking in tongues is really either the result of extreme emotionalism, often stirred up by a kind of hymn-playing which is much akin to jazz, or that it is directly inspired by the Adversary, who with his assistants, the fallen angels, is quick to take advantage of any means whereby he can ensnare us and turn us into bypaths, and away from trusting in the "more sure word of prophecy" (2 Pet. 1:19).
HISTORY OF MODERN "SPEAKING IN TONGUES"
Tracing in history the origin of modern-day "speaking in tongues," we find that in about the year 1700 manifestations occurred among the Huguenots in France. Beginning in 1830 in Scotland and in 1831 in England, there were similar manifestations, which aroused much excitement, and which were believed by quite a number, including Edward Irving, a Presbyterian clergyman in whose church many of the manifestations occurred, to be genuine evidence of the restoration of the miraculous "gifts" prevalent in the early Church. Irving and others of like persuasion soon formed the Catholic Apostolic Church; it still has some branches in America, where there are also a number of other groups, such as the Pentecostal Churches, some Holiness Churches, some Churches of God, the Assemblies of God, the Apostolic Faith Mission, the Mormons, etc., which likewise claim that their members have and exercise the miraculous power of "speaking in tongues."
Concerning the Apostolic Faith Movement, an article appeared some years ago in The Wesleyan Methodist, stating that it "originated in the Pentecostal experiences of Evangelist Charles F. Parham and colaborers in Topeka, Kans., in A.D. 1900." At that time a Miss Agnes Ozman, a member of the Bible School previously founded by Mr. Parham, "received the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance." Shortly thereafter "twelve students were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, while some in the room were said to have seen cloven tongues of fire as they appeared on the day of Pentecost."
"TONGUES" MANIFESTATIONS EXAMINED
An examination of the manifestations, by S.A. Manwell, was reported in The Wesleyan Methodist:
"Those with whom the writer has talked who claim this gift, say that the spirit takes possession of their vocal organs and uses them as he wills, while their minds are at rest. They say they are conscious that their vocal organs are being used, but do not know how, nor do they know what they are saying. They have no power to stop speaking when once the spirit possesses them.
"In the meeting I attended, two women were thus wrought upon. One remained in that condition four or five minutes; the other but a few seconds. The first indication I had of anything out of the ordinary was a low muttering sound without articulation. This muttering lasted but a few seconds, then the voice raised to a more natural tone and volume and it would be hard to imagine how a more rapid succession of sounds could come from the mouth of a human being. For the most part, these sounds appeared to be articulate, but if she spoke a language no one knew it. She herself knew not the meaning of any sound she made.
"In the same series of meetings, on another occasion, another lady was similarly possessed, and when it was time to go home her tongue was yet speaking, and instead of taking a street car, as she had formerly done, she walked, not desiring to enter a car with her vocal organs beyond her control. If I remember correctly, her tongue did not cease until she had nearly or quite reached her home. Some are said to have spoken in as many as twelve different languages, but in all this I had no evidence that what they uttered were languages of earth or heaven. That these people were sincere in their belief that the spirit of God was moving them, I have no doubt. They believed they were talking a foreign language."
In trying to "identify" this movement, Mr. Manwell referred to Isa. 8:19, 20, respecting the spirits that "peep" and "mutter," adding that, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." He classified it with other aberrant religious manifestations, stating:
"History records that during the early part of the last century, the affliction known as the jerks raged with violence. Young men and women were seized with it and fell in convulsions. Wicked men were seized, swearing at every jerk. Some not affected with the regular jerks ran through the woods till exhausted; others crawled on the ground as a religious exercise; while some jumped and some barked for the same reason, and a few spoke in 'unknown tongues,' from which facts arose those obscure classes of sectaries derisively known as Jumpers, Barkers and Mutterers.
"It is also a matter of history that in the early days of the Mormon Church, whole days of 'speaking meetings' were devoted to it. We find that the claims made by the Mormons are the same now being made by the 'Apostolic Faith Movement.' … In an announcement of the 'origin, purpose and methods of the movement,' we find the following: 'Handkerchiefs blest in behalf of the distant sick.' We do not remember that many people since the days of Paul have dared to go to this extreme.
"We are forcibly reminded that a few years since a man by the name of Schlatter practiced sorceries, blest handkerchiefs, and otherwise played with the credulity of the people, so much so that special railroad trains were run to carry the hundreds of sick to him for healing. That Paul had extraordinary power of this kind we do not doubt, but what promise or intimation have we that such power would be continued? If this one feature of the movement were all, it would be enough to brand it as a counterfeit.
"In these days the devil is working in every possible way to destroy the work of Christ. He comes as an angel of light, deceiving if possible the very elect. He counterfeits everything that is good. Many honest souls are being deceived and the work of God is hindered. In the meeting where I made my observations not a sinner was converted to God, and I am credibly informed that the manifestation of the so-called 'tongues' brought no conviction to sinners, but to the contrary, the number thrown into doubt and greater unbelief was greater than those who professed to have the 'tongues.'"
Shortly before his overthrow, King Saul—who serves as a type of sectarian leaders in Christendom—in disobedience to God's command (Lev. 19:31; 20:6) consulted the Witch of Endor, a spirit medium, who, misguided by the demons and her "familiar spirit," deceived Saul into thinking that through her he was receiving a message from the dead Prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 28:7-19; 1 Chron. 10:13, 14; for further explanation see "Spiritismis Demonism" — free on request). And now, shortly before Babylon's final destruction and the overthrow of the sectarian leaders in Christendom as such, they are turning as never before to spirit mediums, communications with the demons, "spirit healings," hypnotism, "speaking in tongues," etc., frequently under the guise of "scientific research." And many of these leading clerics are encouraging their followers to do likewise.
These leaders' course in turning to such things is no doubt a contributing factor to the reported increase in the number of clergymen who are afflicted with emotional disturbances. Writing in Christianity Today, the Rev. Dr. G.C. Anderson reported that "more than 10,000 of our Protestant ministers are now receiving some form of individual or hospital psychiatric care." There has been a threefold increase of ministers in state mental hospitals, he added.
By advocating that the Church take up the practice of miraculous physical healings, "speaking in tongues," etc., these sectarian leaders are really advocating that adult Christians return to infantile practices, to the "gifts" of the Spirit given and intended for the early Church only, in its infancy and childhood—which things, then wrought by the power of God, later ceased, failed, passed away, in about the second century, A.D.; any "gifts" practiced since then are performed by human or Satanic power (Matt. 12:26; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 13:13, 14; 16:14). By thus advocating that believers return to early Church childhood practices, these sectarian leaders might be said to be in their "second childhood"—their dotage!
The Los Angeles Times recently featured an article about a number of church leaders who advocate the "gift of tongues" for the modern church. These "second childhood" advocates, with high-sounding phrases, are loud in their praises of their "glossolalia," or "speaking in tongues."
EPISCOPALIANS TURN TO "GIFT OF TONGUES"
The Reverend (?) Harold Bredesen, pastor of the First Reformed Church of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., is quoted as saying, "We do not usually know what it is we pray when we speak in tongues, but this is not necessary."
In contrast, the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor. 14:14-20): "If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the understanding also … else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. … In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men [fully mature, no longer over-solicitous about the 'gifts' of the Spirit]."
The newspaper report indicated that "Although the modern manifestation of speaking in tongues has spread into Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic and many other churches, it apparently had its beginning (aside from among the Pentecostals), perhaps has its greatest representation, among Episcopalians." An illustration was given of an Episcopal rector who marveled over the ability of some in his congregation to "speak in tongues" after being "strangely entranced." He called in a rector from another church, who with other members of his church began a study of the phenomenon, with the result that both rectors and more than 70 parishioners were at that time granted the "gift of tongues." The Blessed Trinity Society was formed "to hold together those who have experienced the 'gift of tongues,' and spread its gospel." Today its proponents estimate that 2,000 Episcopalians of this diocese can "speak in tongues," and it has spread to many other churches, being heralded as "a new dimension in Christianity" and "the greatest movement since the Reformation."
LUTHERANS STUDY "SPEAKING IN TONGUES"
The American Lutheran Church, in The Lutheran Standard, its official organ, published in Minneapolis, Minn., states that about two dozen pastors and several hundred laymen of their church have reported "speaking in tongues" experiences, and that a denominational commission is studying "these reported manifestations of the Holy Spirit's power." It explains that when a person speaks in tongues, he makes ecstatic utterances that cannot be identified as human language, except by the gift of interpretation.
Some of the ALC pastors and laymen reportedly received the "gift" of "spiritual speaking" after association with Episcopalians. One writer, commenting on the growth of the phenomenon, said: "It may interest you to note that within a diameter of 25 miles there are three Lutheran pastors and three Methodist pastors besides the many, many others in the denominational churches far and wide who minister through the gifts of the Spirit, including the 'speaking in tongues.'" According to The Lutheran Standard, the ALC evangelism office has received letters from 11 states telling of experiences in "tongues."
A HARROWING EXPERIENCE WITH DEMONS
A very revealing report, which very forcefully points out the pitiful condition into which modern-day "speaking in tongues" led two believers, is given by a church Pastor. It relates the experiences of two young women who for about two years had been members of a Pentecostal (Tongues) church in Washington, D. C. and had now come under his ministry. He admired their honesty and sincerity and strong desire to serve God in a manner pleasing to Him, but he discerned in them "a spirit which seemed to be foreign to the Holy Spirit." He states that "it seemed they had an up and down experience, now on the mountain top, then again in the valley, and filled with doubts and fears as to the genuineness of their experience and the infilling of the Holy Spirit."
After much laboring with them in word and prayer, the minister and his wife concluded that they were demon-possessed. The Pastor reports that the girls finally came to realize that the Tongues Movement is wrong and "that their experience of getting under the power and speaking in tongues was not the Holy Spirit at all, but was the power of the devil, and yet they were afraid to make a plain, definite statement of this fact and take a final, decisive stand against it for fear of blaspheming the Holy Ghost."
The Pastor adds: "We wish to state here that this is the reason, while many of those who get into the Tongues Movement know it is not right, they are afraid to take a stand against it and come out. The girls would try to take a firm stand against it, but in each instance it seemed like all hell [he probably refers to the evil spirits] would let loose on them. One of them would have the bed quilts jerked off her while she slept, with no one in the room at all, and presently she began seeing forms moving about the room. Of course this experience would occur after she would expose the Tongues Movement and try to take a definite stand against it."
Tormented by many harrowing experiences, the girls thought they were going insane. Demons were possessing and gradually usurping all power and all authority in their lives. Both girls felt an irresistible, impelling power within, forcing them to take their own lives. They held fine positions, but realized they could not continue in their present condition.
According to the report, the Pastor and his wife took one of the girls into their home to live, and by fasting and prayer sought to help her. One day, while the girl lay under the power, they laid their hands on her in prayer and then commanded the evil spirit in the name of Jesus to come out of her, whereupon a voice from within cried, "I will not come out." When asked, "Who are you who dares to defy Jesus' name and to say, I will not come out?" the voice shouted back, "I am Lucifer, and you do not have power to cast me out."
The battle was severe; but those who fully trust in Jesus and the power of His name, in harmony with His will, have never known defeat (1 John 5:4, 5; 1 Cor. 15:57). Under the power of earnest prayer and much exercise of faith, in harmony with God's promise (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8, 9; John 14:12-14; 16:23, 24), a number of demons were cast out. At one time when they said, "We will not come out," they were commanded in the name of Jesus to tell who they were. The reply was, "We are legion." When the last one had left, the young woman sat up like one raised from a sleep and began to praise the Lord for her deliverance.
According to the report, the Pastor and his wife then went to the home of the other young woman. As they entered the door a terrifying shriek came from one of the demons possessing the girl and she seemed to be thrown headlong onto the davenport. Again, after earnest prayer in faith, the demons were commanded in the name of Jesus to leave the girl. Again they refused. When asked, "Who are you?" they gave various answers. One shrieked, "I am anti-Christ!"
A neighbor, alarmed by the unearthly shrieks, called the police. On seeing the girl's condition, the officer threatened to take her to the insane asylum. When he asked her, "Who are you?" a voice cried out, "I am the devil." He shrank back. Then, from an adjoining room, he phoned headquarters, saying, "There is something here I do not understand; please come at once."
Before preparations were completed for her removal, she was fully delivered and the officers found her normal, "in her right mind" (Luke 8:35)—"with the devilish look gone from her face." According to the report, both of these young women, thus freed from the power of the Adversary, testify that they "knew what was going on, but had no power to talk or act."
"SPEAKING IN TONGUES" AND SPIRITISM
Many other experiences could be cited to show that others also who labor under the delusion that God's miraculous gift of "speaking in tongues" has not ceased forever, and who, contrary to the Scriptures, pray for this power as a "gift of the Spirit," are really receiving this power of "speaking in tongues" from the demons. However earnest and sincere they may be, they become ensnared of the Adversary into believing that they are enjoying a restoration of the gifts whereby God blessed and established the Christian Church in the first century. Their strong delusions continue to increase under a spirit power foreign to God's Holy Spirit.
In many cases they lose the power to reason clearly; even their conversation becomes incoherent. In addition to the "speaking in tongues," they are frequently given the miraculous power to heal the sick and to see visions, and sometimes the demons even give them spirit manifestations. Thus it has been reported in some of their religious journals that Jesus, on several occasions, has appeared in their midst at their meetings, visible to the natural eye.
That these people are earnest and evidently honest only increases our sorrow for them. (For dishonest people we have comparatively little sympathy.) We fear that a later development will be spirit manifestations of a still more pronounced type. The fallen angels are evidently desirous of deluding the whole world. They have certainly had great success, so far as many of the false doctrines are concerned. They have already wrought much havoc upon the human race during this great Time of Trouble, and we believe they are to have a still greater influence in human affairs in its further stages.
Those of our readers who have contact with any of these deluded people who claim to have the miraculous gift of "speaking in tongues" in our day, should point out to them the Apostle's words, "Believe not every spirit [teaching], but try [test, prove—1 Thes. 5:21] the spirits [teachings, doctrines] whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Surely the teaching that we should now pray for the miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit and "come under the power" and speak with tongues, etc., is not "of God," for it contradicts His Word that these "gifts," bestowed upon the early Church, would fail, cease, vanish away. In these "latter times" some have indeed "departed from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4 : 1). Our confidence should not be in the "lying spirits," but rather in the teachings of the Scriptures.
We append here some interesting questions:
REPEATED SPIRIT BAPTISMS AND PENTECOSTS?
Question: Are we to expect and pray for repeated Spirit baptisms, like the one at Pentecost?
Answer: The Scriptures do not warrant us in doing so. There was to be but one baptism of the Spirit for the Church as a whole, on the day of Pentecost. The supplementary manifestation 3½ years later, when the first Gentiles—Cornelius and his household—came into the Body of Christ, was necessary to show unmistakably that God then had received and thenceforth would receive Gentiles as well as Jews into the Body (see The At-One-Ment Between God and Man, Chap. IX). But, according to the Scriptures, there was no further necessity for, nor were there to be, any further Pentecosts for the Church, though "afterward"—after the Gospel Age—there is to be a Pentecostal blessing for the world—"all flesh" (Joel 2:28; for further discussion of this, please see B.S. No. 255—a copy free, on request).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit which came upon the Church at Pentecost has remained with it all down through the Age, and as each one has come into the true Church, he has come under and shared in that original baptism of the Spirit. However, before anyone has been prepared to get this blessing of the Lord's Spirit, first of all he has had to have the justification by faith in Jesus Christ and a heart free from the love of sin, and has had to make his solemn resolution to use his life in serving the Lord, the Truth and the brethren—his vow of consecration (Rom. 12:1)—before he could be in the right attitude to receive the blessing of the begettal, the enlightenment, the comfort and the fellowship of God's Holy Spirit. All of God's people have had to come into an attitude similar to that of the brethren who were blessed on Pentecost day, in order to enter into the special favors and privileges of the Gospel Age.
Even though inflamed with the desire to serve the Lord, the Truth and the brethren, the wise course for anyone to follow is the course of the early Church—to tarry and study and pray—that he may be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), before attempting to act as God's ambassador to others. Indeed, no one is authorized, from the Scriptural standpoint, to preach the Gospel, much or little, except first he have received the authorization of God's Holy Spirit from above (comp. Isa. 61:1).
While opposing the unscriptural view—that new Pentecosts, new Spirit baptisms and miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit are to be prayed for—let us not lose sight of the important fact that until each member of the Body received his share of the blessing of the first Pentecost, he could not have the perfect peace of God (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7), nor be properly, actively and successfully His servants and ambassadors. Would that all of the Lord's people would seek earnestly for a larger measure of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)—watching and praying thereunto (Eph. 6:18), watching their words, their thoughts and their deeds, the leadings of God's providence, and opportunities for His service! Let us ask Him to grant us more and more the emptying of worldly ambitions and desires, and more and more the filling with the mind or spirit of Christ—His disposition.
"WITH STAMMERING LIPS AND ANOTHER TONGUE"
Question: Does Isa. 28:11, "For with stammering [strange, A.R.V.] lips and another tongue will he [God] speak to this people," refer to the miraculous gift of speaking in unknown tongues prevalent in the early Church? and would this throw any light on the Church's experiences here in the end of the Age?
Answer: In 1 Cor. 14:20-22 the Apostle Paul makes an application of this prophecy in connection with God's nominal house of Fleshly Israel in the Harvest of the Jewish Age. In v. 20 he exhorts the early Church: "Brethren, be not children in understanding [comp. 1 Cor. 13:11]: howbeit in malice [ill will] be ye children, but in understanding be men [mature]."
Children learn from infancy onward to understand and speak just a few words at a time—"line upon line—here a little, there a little." Surely Fleshly Israel had been like children, like infants—in understanding. Throughout the Jewish Age God had taught them through the Law and the Prophets "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little" (Isa. 28:10); His intention was that the Law would serve as a schoolmaster to make them ready to receive Christ when He would come (Gal. 3:24; Matt. 11:28-30). But they would not understand God's own simple and initial instructions—instead, in their stubbornness they despised and derided them as being too elementary, and made them of no effect through their traditions (Matt. 15:6), adding so many complexities that the spirit and essence of the original simplicity was lost in a wilderness of confusion.
Outwardly moral, respectable, having a form of godliness (2 Tim. 3:5), they drew nigh to God with their mouths, but their spiritual vision was darkened and their spiritual hearing dulled, and their hearts were removed far from Him (Isa. 6:9, 10; 29:10-13; Matt. 13:14-17). Thus when God sent them His own Son for their salvation, and presented to them the message of the Kingdom, they, with few exceptions, were so stupidly drunk with the traditions of the elders (Mark 7:3, 8, 9, 13) and the wine of false doctrine that they could not see their Messiah and King in His true light, nor appreciate the Kingdom message; so, except for the comparatively few Israelites indeed, they received Him not (John 1:11)—they rejected the Kingdom message (Matt. 23:13) and crucified their King!
Therefore they were cast off from God's favor and mouthpieceship (Matt. 23:38), for they indeed knew not the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44). Instead, God chose other mouthpieces to hear the message of the Kingdom, among whom were some who did not have much formal education (Acts 4:13). Their message and manner of presentation, accompanied with "speaking in tongues" was indeed strange to the Jews, as is indicated in Isa. 28:11.
Referring to this text, the Apostle shows (1 Cor. 14:21, 22) that the presence of the miraculous gift of "tongues" was a sign of God's visitation and approval upon them, designed not so much for them as for unbelievers. But so far as the majority were concerned, it was as God had prophesied, "for all that they will not hear me, saith the Lord." "Wherefore," i.e., because of the dullness of hearing on the part of the unbelievers, "tongues" were "for a sign, not to them that believe [for they did not need this sign], but to them that believe not [some of whom by this miraculous "gift" would learn that God was now doing His work through the Christians and would thus be drawn toward the message of Truth, which heretofore they had not received]." But, the Apostle shows, "prophesying [the public expounding of the Word of God] serveth not for [is not particularly intended for] them that believe not, but for them which believe [whose hearts and minds are receptive and who accept the Truth in faith]."
The Apostle then, in vs. 23-25, shows the superiority in usefulness of the intelligible teaching of the Word of God to the incomprehensible speaking in unknown tongues, which miraculous "gift" was merely for a sign for unbelievers, that they might see from such a miracle that it is of God, and so embrace the Gospel.
As we have already noted, the miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit died out forever (1 Cor. 13:8) when the Apostles and those upon whom they had conferred them had all died, the completed canon of the Scriptures being then available so that the man of God would be thoroughly furnished (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) without the help of the "gifts." Hence the miraculous God-given gift of "speaking in tongues" is not to be expected here in the end of the Gospel Age. However, there is an application of Isa. 28:11 in our times. As at the First Advent, when because of their unfitness the Lord passed by the scribes and Pharisees, and gave His Truth message through the disciples, so now He is passing by the wise and prudent in Mystic Babylon (Rev. 18:1-4, 23; "the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee") and instead is giving the Truth on His plan and Kingdom through those who are meek, humble and ready to learn of Him. How thankful we are that in due time, after the present great Time of Trouble is over, God "will turn to the people a pure language [message—the message of Truth], that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent" (Zeph. 3:8, 9)!
HOW TO KNOW THE SPIRIT'S WITNESS
Question: If the miraculous "gifts" of the Spirit, like "speaking in tongues," etc., ceased forever when the twelve Apostles and those upon whom they had conferred these "gifts" died, how thereafter has it been possible for consecrated believers to have the assurance that they have the Holy Spirit and are children of God?
Answer: In Romans 8:16 we read, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Aside from the miraculous "gifts" given only to the early Church, there are especially seven things Biblically taught as constituting the full witness of the Spirit given for the assurance of every one of God's Spirit-begotten people of the Gospel Age. Any one of these seven testifies to the possession of the Holy Spirit and the sonship of those who have it; but to have the complete witness of the Spirit, all seven are required. In brief the seven are:
(1) An appreciative understanding of the deep things of God's Word (1 Cor. 2:6-16, comp. Isa. 64:4; Mark 4:10-12; John 7:17; 14:15-17; Psa. 25:8-10, 12, 14); heavenly aspirations (Col. 3:1-4, comp. Col. 2:12 and Rom. 6:4, 5; Psa. 42:1, 2; 63:1; 84:2; 105:4; 119:2, 10, 20, 40; Matt. 5:6; 6:33; Phil. 3:12-14); Divinely-given opportunities for service (Rom. 12:1; Matt. 20:1-16; 21:28, 30; 25:14-30; John 4:34-38; Gal. 6:10); (4) growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 8:9, 29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; Col. 3:12-14; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; 1 John 3:14, 16; 4:16); (5) persecution for Christ's sake (Matt. 5:10-12, 44, 45; John 15:18, 19; 16:2; Acts 5:40, 42; Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:29; Phil. 1:28, 29; 2 Tim. 2:10-12; 3:12; Heb. 10:32-34; 1 Pet. 3:14, 16, 17; 4:14, 16, 19); (6) chastisements for faults (Heb. 12:5-13; Psa. 94:12, 13; 118:18; 119:67; Prov. 3:11, 12; Isa. 26:16; Luke 12:47, 48; Rev. 3:19); (7) trials amid temptations to disobey God's will, to test our progress or lack of progress (Deut. 13:3; 8:2; Psa. 66:10-12; Dan. 12:10; Jas. 1:2-4, 12; 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:6, 7; 4:12; 5:8, 9). (See Christ-Spirit-Covenants, pp. 627-654, for details.)
Many regard as their witness of the Spirit such things as their feelings of exuberance, or habitual cheerfulness, or audible voices speaking to them, or their "speaking in tongues," dreams, visions, impressions, imaginations, etc. However, when sickness, pain, losses, disappointments, family troubles, hardships, necessities, persecutions, severe contrarities, etc., come, their witness often deserts them—and that at the times when they need it most! But not so with the sevenfold witness mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Instead of deserting us amid trials, it will keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace through Jesus Christ our Lord (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7), assuring us that our interests are all right with God, that we have His Holy Spirit and that He is continuing to deal with us as members of His family. Praise God for this!
AN INTERESTING LETTER
MY dear Brother: I thank God and take courage, because of the marvelous light that is now shining upon my so darkened horizon; and, praise God, it is to shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. Running from one denomination to another, thinking myself satisfied and soon finding myself more thirsty than ever, oh how I was craving for the real water of life! At last I landed among the tongues-people, who got under the power. I cried to God night and day to give me this new tongue. I was sure now that if I could only get this tongue I should always be satisfied. I starved myself for days and weeks in order to "get down flesh." I was soon a veritable skeleton and, of course, commenced "to shake" from nervousness. Then the tongues-people commenced to operate on my jaws and soon I was declared of the interpreter as "speaking in a new tongue." I kept fasting, kept nervous, kept shaking and kept "talking away" as long as I felt a nervous strain; I thought "the spirit" was upon me.
Yet under all this I am sure God saw my earnest heart, and sent me deliverance. Two sisters of the tongues-people were the cause. One, the foremost in the ranks of the tongues-movement, was under the power; the other had a vision. "I see a hand," said the sister. "It's a child's hand," said the sister under the power and supposed to be used by the Holy Ghost to answer all questions. "No, it is a grown person's hand," said the sister in her vision. "Ah, yes! (as correcting herself) the Savior's hand," said the sister under the power.
I was sitting listening to them, and I thought at the moment, "If the Holy Spirit is giving a vision to one and explaining it through another, would it not correspond?" At once the scales fell from my eyes, so to speak. From that time the demons lost their control over me more and more. Soon after, a friend handed me The Divine Plan of the Ages. I was offered this book six years before, but would not accept it, answering that my Bible was enough for me. He kept on advising me to read it, so at last I told him I would look it over. I had scarcely opened its pages when I saw things explained, according to the Scriptures, which I had long been looking for. I at once began to study it night and day. I can now say, "Glory to God in the highest."
One of the smallest of His little ones, C.J.J.
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