Mar. 22, 2017
Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in tongues is not babbling and rolling around on the floor. I need to address some unpopular facts in this study, and I must begin by saying that although I disagree with some of the teachings of my charismatic (false tongue speaking) brothers and sisters, I firmly believe that God has thousands of His children in these fellowships. The war I wage is not against people, but against error. The same truth that at times can hurt will also promise to set us free (John 8:32)!
Let's begin with a definition. The word "tongue" in the Bible it simply means "a language." God gives all the gifts of the Spirit to fill a practical need. What was the need for tongues.
Jesus told His followers, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). This command posed a problem. How could the apostles go out preaching to all the world when they spoke only one or two languages? After all, Jesus' disciples were very bright, even though most of them were not formally educated. In order to fulfill the great commission, He promised to give them a unique gift from the Holy Spirit. It was a miraculous, supernatural ability to speak foreign languages they had not formerly studied or known for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; ... they shall speak with new tongues" (Mark 16:17). The fact that Jesus said these new tongues, or languages, would be a "sign" indicates that the ability to speak them would not come as the result of normal linguistic study. Rather, it would be an instantaneous gift to fluently preach in a previously unfamiliar language.
There are only three actual examples of speaking in tongues recorded in the Bible (Acts chapters 2, 10, and 19). If we look at these three cases, we should find a clearer picture of this controversial gift.
It is also sometimes suggested that the gift of tongues is a "heavenly language" understood only by God or those with the gift of interpretation. The Bible is clear in Acts chapter 2 that both the disciples and those listening understood what was being preached, not just God-"the wonderful works of God" (Verse 11).
The genuine gift of tongues is a powerful tool for the proclamation of the gospel. But remember, the devil has a counterfeit for every truth of God.
Glossolalia (glô´se-lâ’ lê-a) is the word often used to describe the popular experience found in most charismatic churches. It is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as: "fabricated and non-meaningful speech, especially such speech associated with a trance state or certain schizophrenic syndromes.
Contrast that with the same dictionary's definition for a language: "The use by human beings of voice sounds, and often written symbols representing these sounds, in organized combinations and patterns in order to express and communicate thoughts and feelings." By any definition, the disjointed sounds of glossolalia (or babbling) are not a language.
Believe me, I have seen this practice many times. In one charismatic church I used to attend, the pastor and his wife were a "tongues team." Every week in the middle of the pastor's sermon, his wife would jump to her feet, throw her arms in the air, and break out in ecstatic utterance. But she always said the same thing. "Handa kala shami, handa kala shami, handa kala shami... ." Over and over again. This instantly seemed suspicious to me because Jesus said, "But when ye pray use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do" (Matthew 6:7).
Each time this happened, the woman's husband would stop preaching and provide a dubious English translation for her so-called message. Usually it began with "Thus saith the Lord." Yet in spite of the fact that she always repeated the words "handa kala shami," the pastor's vague interpretation was different each time-and sometimes three times longer than the utterance. I used to wonder why, if this was a message from God, wouldn't He give it to us in English the first time as there was no need for tongues. We all spoke the same language.