My apologies for being off for the last couple of weeks, folks. I’ve been dealing with a lot of issues here at home including health issues, so I took some time away. Not going to promise that I’ll be writing every day or every week, but I do my best as God permits to bring fresh Manna from His Word every chance I get. I’ll strive not to let you down again.
When I was a boy, I had several pastors that used to tell me, “Tom; new levels, new devils!”. That is to say; every time God promotes you in this life, every time you receive a fresh Word from Heaven, every time you discover something in the Word or by prophecy that transforms you, never expect for one minute that you won’t be challenged in some new way by the kingdom of darkness as well. Moreover, that challenge will always be something different, or a new wrinkle to an old challenge from the last time you withstood the enemy. Since I began posting this blog, I’ve ran into some new challenges. Not so much from the world, although those have come, and my regular readers and followers know best. They’ve come from the people that like to argue finer points of theology, and point finger at those who say otherwise as “false teachers”. Personally, I think they’re majoring in the minors. They need to get their beliefs on simpler things like salvation and such straight before they go tackling things like eschatology and such. So, with much prayer and contemplation, I’ve been given leading to address each of these one at a time. The other day, I found myself outnumbered and outshouted (even though I knew I was right) about how Tongues had ceased (although they balked about the other 8 Gifts) after the death of the last Apostle, how “modern” tongues were a bunch of gibberish and fake, how tongues have to be a “real” language, how tongues were strictly a “sign for the Jews” (although I’m still trying to find a Scriptural reference for that), how speaking in Tongues holds no power, and allegedly how Charismatics believe that one has to speak in Tongues in order to be saved. Didn’t make me doubt, but you can only quote Scripture for so long and be outshouted that you’re not “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” before you either start shouting back like the people you’re debating or you bow out and start studying out what they’re saying. I chose the latter; because it’s better than arguing with an idiot, and leaving the reader with doubt as to who’s who.
The Short Answer on Tongues (skirting the longhand)
Just to start the show, I can point out I Corinthians 14:37-40 (emphasis added):
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, in some churches there is neither decency nor order when it comes to speaking in Tongues, and that there are both counterfeit tongues and even tongues that are a work of the devil in the world today (those will be addressed both here and in part 2 of this writing). This is a disease that needs to be inoculated against in the Body of Christ through the proper teaching of the Word. However; if it is the clear command of the Lord not to forbid speaking in Tongues, as it clearly is, WHO ARE YOU TO DEFY THE COMMAND OF GOD?! It would behoove you to heed the words of Gamaliel, the Rabbi and Pharisee teacher of the Apostle Paul in Acts 5:34-39 (emphasis added) when he said:
Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
So it seems to me no wonder that the ones who deny and even mock those who speak in Tongues are often angry people, who use current misuses of the Tongues and Gifts to deny it all, throwing out the baby with the bath water so to speak. As Jesus said to Saul on the Damascus Road, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” So, they’ve come to find themselves fighting the very Hand of God.
Second; it has been indeed said that Tongues were a sign for the Jews, and speaking in Tongues was exclusive to the Jew. The latter being so thoroughly disproven that I won’t bother with the Scriptural proofs. But; as to Tongues being a sign to the Jews exclusively, I say we are all Jews via the sacrifice of the Cross. For it is written in Romans 11:17-24”
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild bynature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
So, by all accounts in Scripture, we are as much a member of the Commonwealth of Israel as the one born there. That Tongues are merely a sign to the Jews doesn’t hold water.
Now let’s examine this claim that Tongues are a bunch of gibberish…
What language does God speak?
So I found myself in a hearty debate with some brothers (and I do consider them brothers- even if they do have their theology upside down, inside out, and backwards) about the Holy Spirit, the Gifts, and Tongues. Now, being raised in a Pentecostal home back during the days when women wore the old-school beehive in the name of holiness (but definitely had what they talked about), and revival services were well known to last for days and revivals for weeks and even years in some cases, I believe in the Gifts and Tongues. Only took watching broken bones snap back into place and be confirmed the next day to have healed miraculously, and experiencing my first deliverance from evil spirits at age 7, and watching how the old saints worshipped and how strong they were in the Word and how they appropriately exercised the Gifts to convince me for life. It’s all real!
But I found myself outnumbered and outshouted in debate, and felt ill prepared, and so, I began reading a book by Perry Stone on the subject (1). Right in the beginning, he recounts a meeting he had in Jerusalem with the late Rabbi Yehuda Getz, former Priest in charge of the Western Wall. Perry and Rabbi Getz began discussing Gifts and Tongues, and on the subject of Tongues, Rabbi Getz almost nonchalantly says, “Oh, you mean the Language of God?”. He then goes on to recount an oral tradition passed down through generations of the Aaronic Priesthood. The tradition is that when the High Priest would step into the Kodesh haKodeshim on Yom Kippur to make atonement for the people, he would begin to speak in a language that only he and God could understand. Once he left, he could remember what was said but could not speak the language (2). Noting the miraculous nature of this, it begged one question for me…what language does God speak?
In the Beginning…
Then I started searching the Scriptures. I started finding evidences that God does indeed have His own language, and it has not changed, and Adam and the earliest humans were able to speak it. More importantly, I found evidences that it is still spoken in the Heavenlies today. Bold assertions to be sure, but examine the evidence. Adam, as part of his assignment, was given a propensity for speech. Genesis 2:19 states:
“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”
This means that given Adam was to name and exercise dominion over every creature, he had to have language. God must also have indeed spoken this language for it is written in Genesis 1:26:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Also evidentiary to this, it is written also in Genesis that God and Adam conversed in this language together. Written in Genesis 2:16-17:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
So it’s clear by the Scriptures that God, Adam, and Eve all spoke the same language that was spoken in the Heavenlies. Oddly enough, there’s someone else in the story that spoke the same language…satan. Satan, before his fall, was an Angel and the Worship leader of Heaven. This alone is proof to me that not only does God have His own language, but has a propensity to allow it to be used in song. Ezekiel 28 states:
“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”
And in I Corinthians 13:1 (emphasis added):
“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.”
So satan speaks, and sings, and was in the Garden. He speaks the tongue of the Angels, as he was one. So, this serves as evidence that this was the language spoken in Heaven. But does it prove that this was the language spoken in the Garden? Let’s examine further. Genesis 3 shows conversation between all of the above (emphasis added):
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Sooooo, it looks like there is indeed a “Language of God”, and that it’s an ACTUAL language (and NOT 15th century English), and that God, humanity being proceeded from Adam, and the Angels fallen or not, can speak it. Moreover, neither God quit speaking it after the Fall, nor humanity, nor the Angels or satan and his demons. This was one language spoken from the Garden, through the Flood and the Nephilim’s rise and fall, until the Tower of Babel. This is where things begin to get interesting. Let’s examine. Genesis 11:1, 6-9:
Vs.1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Again, it looks like there was indeed one language. This story also interests me on a few other levels. First; in verse 1 it shows that the people all spoke one language and spoke the same things. This is confirmed in verse 6 by God Himself saying, “the people are one…”. To me, this brings to mind another passage of Scripture, one that’s a bit more on topic. Acts 2:1:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…”
So what are you saying, you may ask? I’m saying very succinctly that Tongues is not even gibberish. I’m saying that God has a Language that He permits some of us to speak and interpret, and that He speaks to us spirit to spirit with, and that He allows us to sing to Him in, all of which is found in I Corinthians 12. And I think that the Word and the admittedly oft-misguided and tragically secular modern linguistic sciences agree with me and corroborate one another. That the Gift of Tongues, Prayer Language, Interpretation of Tongues, and Singing in Tongues are all an actual language.
For about the last 100 years, linguistic scientists have begun studying the Proto-Human Language theory (3), or what has been called the Mother Tongue theory(4). Most agree (including Darwin, although I’m not a fan) in the monogenesis of language. That all language on Earth began in one place with one language. This would be in perfect corroboration with the Biblical account of Genesis chapters 1-11 and with the account of God’s scattering of the people across the earth and the confounding of their languages in Genesis 11:7-8.
Now one would ask why God would speak to and through His people in a language that no one on earth speaks anymore. Well, let me go to the Scripture on this one, and see if you find this out of context. I Corinthians 15:45:
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
So it is in context that the Holy Spirit also speaks this language. This would be the same Holy Spirit that dwells in every believer, Romans 8:11:
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
So if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and speaks the Language of God, if He speaks through us we can speak it. And; according to Acts 2:4 it is indeed the Holy Spirit who gives utterance. As it is in Romans 8:26 and I Corinthians 12:11. I will give them respectively:
Romans 8:26-27- Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what isthe mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I Corinthians 12:11 (emphasis mine)- But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Scientists have tried using these theories to decode the syntax of this language and figure out by reverse engineering modern and even ancient languages to figure out how to speak it, to little avail. About as close as they’ve gotten is to discover a strange codex, how to tell emotion from speech of some of the dialects that would’ve been soon after the language’s confounding, or actually been a part of it, they can’t tell, but not the original (one of these is called the lying dialect or liars’ tongue, more on this soon as this corroborates John 8:44, gives me the creeps…). Most scientists of today have grown frustrated with trying to decode it and have actually banded together as a scientific discipline to consciously not pursue it, as they fear their failure would bring embarrassment upon and discredit their field. This to me would corroborate the story of a very real God confounding the language. His words on the matter, Isaiah 22:22:
“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
And Revelation 3:7:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;”
And there frustration is by God’s design. His Words from Isaiah 29:13-16:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Here’s what we’ve established so far:
– God has a Language all His own
– It was spoken by mankind in the Garden, until Babel
– The Holy Spirit, as part of the Trinity, speaks this language
– All human language was derived from the Language of God
– All of Heaven still speaks this language
So, it’s would be a reasonable hypothesis to say that if someone were speaking in Tongues as the Spirit gave utterance (AKA speaking through them), one would be able to and actually be quite adept at, speaking any language on the planet that God gives them to speak, or even to speak the base language itself, and for interpretation to be given by the same Spirit who gives utterance through us.
Did Tongues Cease with the Apostles…?
Then there is the argument that Tongues and the Gifts ceased to operate after the death of the Apostle John. Let us then examine both the Scripture and Christian history to see if this is true, to be Berean about it.
Well, I don’t think so. Short answer to why I don’t believe this is found in the Scripture. Romans 11:29 (emphasis added)
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
And for those who doubt the Scripture here is taken in context, I Corinthians 12:4-6 (emphasis added):
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”
And now for the Christian historical evidence that Tongues have never ceased. Tongues and miracles haven’t ceased in the Church, people just quit asking to receive. Just as the Priests in the Aaronic Priesthood felt that God had abandoned them during the 400 years of silence, and that there were to be no more true prophets, the Church abandoned the Gifts and Tongues after the Apostle John because the Apostles’ teachings on the matter were both hidden from destruction by Rome and their successors by and large were being slowly deceived by false teaching or being martyred by Rome. However; thanks be to God, their original teachings were found and there was a remnant that remained who still taught as they did and still practiced the Gifts and forbade not to speak in Tongues, as Paul commanded by the unction of the Lord.
So, this listing of great Men of God is actually a Hall of Fame of sorts for those who kept the True Faith alive:
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) In his own writing, Dialogue with Trypho, states: “…prophetical gifts remain with us even now to the present time.”
Irenaeus (125-200 AD) In a work entitled, Against Heresies, says: “For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have been thus cleansed from evil spirits frequently believe [in Jesus Christ for salvation], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions and utter prophetic expressions. Others still heal the sick by laying hands upon them, and they are made well.”
Tertullian (160-240 AD) In A Treatise on the Soul, says: “For seeing that we acknowledge the spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift.”
Origen (185-284 AD) In his writing, Against Celsus, Origen says: “…for by these means we too have seen many persons freed from grievous calamities,…and countless other ills, which could not be cured neither by men nor devils…to these promises are added strange, fanatical and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning.”
Pachomius (292-346 AD) An ancient writer describes Pachomius with the ability to speak in a language that he had not learned.
Ambrose (397 AD) In his theological work, entitled, Of the Holy Spirit, says:”…the Father gives the gift of tongues, so too has the Son also granted it. In like manner we have heard also above concerning the Holy Spirit that He too grants the same kinds of graces.” Please keep in mind that the church at this point is almost 400 years old and that the original disciples passed on about 250-300 years previous.
Augustine (354-430 AD) Augustine actually made derogatory remarks against miracles early on in his writings. But later in life he began to see miracles taking place before his very eyes. In one writing he even describes what some Charismatics might call, Singing in Tongues: “And for whom is such jubilation fitting if not for the ineffable God? For he is ineffable whom one cannot express in words; and if you cannot express him in words, and yet you cannot remain silent either, then what is left but to sing in jubilation, so that your heart may rejoice without words, and your unbounded joy may not be confined to the limits of syllables.”
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 AD) Apparently Hildegard was ridiculed for praying to the Lord for miracles and healings for individuals. According to referenced works, Hildegard also spoke and sang in tongues. Because of the great miracles that seemed to surround the life of Hildegard, and because many did not understand them, some actually said that it was the work of demons. Hildegard was actually defended by Bernard of Clairvaux, who encouraged a visit to Pope Eugenius III. In 1148, Pope Eugenius personally investigated the matter and said that the miracles should continue through Hildegard.
St. Stephen (1396 AD) St. Stephen on a mission to Georgia, is reported to have spoke in the tongues of the natives of the land in their own language-a language he had never learned before. Purportedly, St. Colette also spoke in tongues.
Martin Luther (1346-1546 AD) Martin Luther’s own hymn states that, “The Spirit and gifts are ours.” In Souer’s collection,A History of the Christian Church, he describes Martin Luther as: “a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues and interpreter, in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit.”
The Quakers (c. 1650) Edward Burroughs, a personal friend to George Fox, and an early Quaker, describes their charimata experience: “We received the pouring down of the Holy Spirit upon us, and the gift of God’s Holy eternal Spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spoke with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as His Spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters.”
The Moravians (c. 1730) It is reported that the Moravians experienced a revival with speaking in tongues. A critic, John Roche, describes this phenomenon as such: “[the Moravians] commonly broke into…disconnected jargon…which they often passed on as…the exuberant and resistless evacuations of the Spirit.”
The Methodists (c. 1751) Thomas Walsh, a personal friend of John Wesley, wrote this in his own journal: “This morning the Lord gave me a language I knew not of, raising my soul to Him in a wonderful manner.”
Jonathan Edwards (c. 1750) Speaking in tongues was common during the Great Awakening revival. In a book called,Religious Enthusiasm and the Great Awakening, Mr. Lovejoy says: “These meetings would continue till 10, 11, 12 O’clock at night; …others made uttering ecstatic expressions…”
D.L. Moody (1837-1899) D.L. Moody, evangelist and co-founder of one of today’s most highly sought after Bible training institutions, said that he had an experience of the Holy Spirit subsequent to Salvation: “I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York, oh, what a day!-I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name…I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted…I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience for all the world…”
So; it would seem to me that unless you wanted to call all of these Great Men of Faith blasphemers, all these powerful teachers false, and all of these believers heretics (like the Catholic Church did most of them), you will see that Tongues did NOT cease. I’ll accept these men’s company over the cynic’s anyday.
So that’s about all I got to say on the matter. Baruch HaShem!
(1) Stone, Perry “Code of the Holy Spirit”
(2) Perry Stone in conversation with Rabbi Yehuda Getz, “Code of the Holy Spirit”, pages 3-4