Over the past several weeks we have been looking at the teachings of the Charismatic movement. We have seen that God's Word is sufficient and we have no need of "special revelation". We have seen that God used miracles to authenticate His message and His messengers prior to the completion of God's Word. We have also studied the only three places in Scripture where God recorded tongues actually being spoken. Last week we took a close look at the church in Corinth where Paul wrote to correct many errors within that church. One of the problems was the perversion of the spiritual gifts within the church. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was not a letter of commendation, but was one of rebuke for sinful practices. The church had embraced many pagan rituals and had made them a part of their worship service. The tragedy was intensified by their spiritual dullness and inability to discern whether what was happening was of God or of some other origin. Tonight we want to consider Paul's instruction in God's Word concerning the matter of tongues.
I. Tongues are not for all. (1 Co. 12:4- 11, 27-31)
A. The Charismatic teaching.
1. The AoG state that "We believe it is God's plan for every Christian to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit."
2. "This New Testament experience is evidenced first by speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance..."
B. The Bible teaching.
1. The gift of tongues was not intended for every believer any more than the others were.
2. Paul asks the question, "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
3. The answer is NO!
4. He explained that in v4-11
II. Tongues will cease. (1 Co. 13:8)
A. Because there is a better way.
1. Paul told the believers at Corinth that God had a purpose for the spiritual gifts.
2. But in chapter 12:31 he said I will show you a better way.
3. What was the "old way"?
a. It was a way which had produced division within the church.
b. Note: 12:25
c. It was a way of confusion, disorderliness, and indecency.
4. The better way was love. (13:1)
a. Paul essentially said that without love, the spiritual gifts were of no value. page three
b. Charity, or love, was the missing ingredient in the Corinthian church.
c. These believers at Corinth were more interested in their spiritual ego trip than they were about caring for one another.
B. Because their purpose and usefulness was completed.
1. As we have seen, tongues were given to verify that God was at work.
2. With the completed Word of God, we no longer need external signs to authenticate the message or the messenger.
3. Paul emphasized the temporary nature of three of the prominent gifts, as well as the permanence of love. (v8)
a. "Charity never faileth..."
b. "...prophecies, they shall fail..."
c. "...tongues, they shall cease..."
d. "...knowledge, it shall vanish away..."
4. The question that we must answer is when?
a. Note: v10, "But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away."
b. Note: Joshua 5:11-12
1) Once the nation of Israel had entered into the land of promise they began to eat of the land.
2) When that happened, the miracle of the manna ceased because it was no longer necessary.
c. When the Word of God was completed, we had all of the revelation God was going to give us, so there was no more need for the special signs and wonders...we now have the Bible.
III. Tongues was not the most important gift. (14:1-19)
A. The gift of tongues is secondary to prophecy.
1. Prophecy edifies the whole congregation. v1-5
2. All spiritual gifts were given for the purpose of ministering to people.
3. The Corinthian people were perverting the gift of tongues by not using the gift to minister to others, but to use it to build themselves up as being spiritual.
4. Note: v5 "I would that ye all spake with tongues..."
a. The Charismatics would take that verse as a Divine mandate that we all should speak with tongues.
b. If that is so, then it is a contradiction of Scripture!
c. Paul had previously taught that all should not speak with tongues. cf. 12:29-30
d. Paul was making the state- ment for the sake of emphasis. cf. 1 Co. 7:7
e. He concludes with this, "but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues".
B. Tongues are unintelligible. (v6-12)
1. They are not understood by the speaker or the hearer.
2. Paul points to several examples from the natural world.
3. Paul clearly states that there is no value in speaking unless what is said is also understood.
4. He again states the priority in the use of the gifts is to edify the church.
C. Tongues are not for praying either. (v13-19)
1. Many Charismatics talk about a prayer language.
2. Paul admonishes the church here to pray with the understanding, not with tongues!
3. Once again the emphasis is on the necessity of understanding.
4. Could Paul be any clearer than in v18-19?
IV. Tongues were for a sign. (v20-25)
A. Paul calls upon the believers at Corinth to quit being childish, and to start acting like adults.
B. Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12 which was a reference to Israel's refusal to listen to God which would result in the Assyrian captivity.
C. Paul points out that tongues were given as a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.
1. A sign of judgment against unbelivieving Israel.
2. A sign of blessing for unbelieving Israel on the day of Pentecost.
3. A sign of authority to unbelieving Israel that the apostles were truly speaking for God.
D. Tongues were ineffectual for evangelism.
1. Note the example Paul gives.
2. The testimony of a church full of people speaking with tongues to an unbeliever is that they are mad or crazy!
3. However, if they prophesy, an unbeliever can hear and under- stand and be saved.
4. Then he will report that God is in you! (not because of your speaking in tongues, but because he heard and understood)
Conclusion: I want to stop here for tonight. We will consider the regulations for the use of the biblical gift of tongues next week. What we need to be able to do is to discern exactly what does God's Word have to say about tongues?
1) Tongues are not for all.
2) Tongues was not a permanent gift.
3) Tongues was not the most important gift.
4) Tongues were given as a sign to the unbelieving Jew.
If what is going on in today's Charismatic movement is of God, it would be in accordance with the Word of God. God will not contradict His Word. Paul said, "Brethren, be not children in understanding...but in understanding be men." Tonight, let's grow up in this matter of understanding what the Bible teaches about tongues. Where do you stand? There is no middle ground! May I encourage you to stand with God's Word? No matter what the issue, or what the situation, if we are going to be the kind of people that God wants us to be, we must come down on the side of God!