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The biblical gift of tongues is a major emphasis of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements, but the Bible teaches that this was a temporary practice limited to the first churches. Following are six important lessons on the doctrine of tongues:
1. Biblical tongues were real earthly languages (Acts 2:4-11).
A foundational fact about biblical tongues is that they were real languages, not some sort of unintelligible mutterings. The law of first mention is an important rule of Bible interpretation, and the first time we see the exercise of tongues in the New Testament is in Acts 2:6-11. Here we see that the gift of tongues was the miraculous ability to speak in a language that one had never learned. At least 14 or 15 different languages are mentioned here. These were normal earthly languages spoken by men in that day, and the Jewish disciples were able to speak in these languages even though they had never learned them. There is no reason to believe that the gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12-14 is different from that mentioned in the book of Acts. In both places the tongues consisted of speaking in earthly languages that one had never learned. The same Greek word “glossa” is used for both. This word refers to the tongue itself (Mk. 7:33) or to a language spoken by the tongue.
2. Biblical tongues were a sign to unbelieving Israel regarding the founding of the church and they ceased when this purpose was completed (1 Corinthians 14:20-22).
Another foundational truth about biblical tongues is that they were chiefly a sign to Israel that God was extending the gospel to all nations. The Corinthians were abusing the spiritual gifts and were particularly enamored with tongues. As spiritual infants (1 Cor. 3:1), they were “showing off” to one another. Paul tells them to stop being children and to be men, by understanding the true purpose of tongues. It was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 28:11-12 that was directed to the Jews.
The following is excerpted from 317-page illustrated THE PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS: THE HISTORY AND ERROR, which is available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature -- www.wayoflife.org
THE NEW ORDER OF THE LATTER RAIN
On February 12, 1948, a Pentecostal “revival” broke out in the Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The previous day, a female student had prophesied that a great worldwide revival was about to begin. There were alleged tongues, healings, prophecies, and many “fell under the spirit.”
The School was founded by Herrick Holt, pastor of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in North Battleford, and he was joined in the fall of 1947 by George Hawtin and Percy Hunt, formerly pastors with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Hawtin and Hunt brought 70 students from the Bethel Bible Institute where they had formerly taught.
Jack Hayford (b. 1934) is the influential Pentecostal pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, and the author of many popular books and contemporary praise songs, including “Majesty.”
(The song “Majesty,” lovely though it is, promotes the unscriptural “kingdom now” philosophy, in which Christians are thought to be able to exercise kingdom authority over sickness and the devil in this present hour. This is what the words “kingdom authority” refer to in Hayford’s song.)
Hayford belongs to the Four Square Pentecostal Church, a denomination founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in direct disobedience to the Word of God. “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:12).
Christianity Today magazine calls Hayford “The Pentecostal Gold Standard” (Christianity Today, July 2005), but when his theology and practice are examined we find that his position is not the untarnished gold of Scripture but the rust and corrosion of extra-biblical “revelation.”