The Good Person Test
Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in Tongues
Why I no longer speak in tongues
I had always been just a tad sceptical about some of my Christian "experiences" and, not wanting to discover I had been deceived (due to pride), put off a real honest look at these experiences. But lately I have been doing a little self-examination as we are commanded to do (2 Cor. 13:5). The focus of my examination was on Charismatic experiences in general and in particular, the gift of tongues as exercised today.
Some of you reading this may have also experienced some scepticism about your experience or that of others. On the other hand, some of you may be quite sure in your own mind about your experience and have no doubts. But whether you have doubts or no doubts, one thing is clear: Scripture exhorts you to examine everything that you or others claim to be part of the Christian experience. If your experience is genuine, then you have nothing to be concerned about. If it proves not to be genuine, then isn't it better to find out now than to continue in delusion?
As I made a number of discoveries I experienced the truth of Jesus words, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." I pray this will be your experience too.
As I began to examine myself I started with the question, "If tongues can be a private prayer language, that does not have to be understood by the one praying (as is taught in Charismatic / Petnecostal circles) then HOW can the tongues speaker TEST what they are praying to see if it actually IS from God?". This troubled me as 1 Thess 5:21 says "prove everything." so this must include tongues. How could I prove that the unknown words I were speaking were actually a gift from God, if I was ignorant and did not know what I was saying? Moreover, the first verse of the first chapter in the Bible to actually teach about tongues, says: "I would not have you ignorant."
It may come as a surprise to some but "ignorance" is not a spiritual gift! Since ignorance is not good and since many places in the Bible say we to seek knowledge and truth. (eg. Prov. 23:23) I also had to ask myself:
"WHY would God give me a gift that left me ignorant and, because of that, could not be proved?" A gift the Buddhists, cultists, Satanists and the non-religious use. I had prayed in tongues since 1980 about one week after the "Good News 80 Crusade" but recently renounced them as not from God because when I examined my experience in light of the Scriptures that related to that experience, I discovered that the Bible did not back up my experience. Something had to go. It wasn't going to be the Bible.
God, through his world, had convinced me that he would NOT tell me to test everything, and then give me something I could not test. I could not test it (tongues) because I could not understand it.
Sure, I could say that as I prayed in tongues I often felt something rising up in my spirit - which I did, but sometimes I didn't (no different really to praying in English as far as feelings are concerned). I could say that on a couple of occasions when I prayed for some people in tongues, some said they felt they were released of something deep inside them - what that was we never knew, so that could not be tested either (but when praying in English, specific prayers were answered, and could be tested). I could say that on one occasion I spent three hours in prayer for the soul of a lost man, often praying in tongues, that I felt really close to God - the next day the man was saved (but there are many people who don't pray in tongues and after fervent prayer have seen souls saved. People like David Brainard who would spend hours in the woods praying for the Indians he had been sent to as a missionary).
As I considered my experience in this way I was left with two problems.
1) If I use my experience to validate my experience I have no way of knowing if I had been deceived.
My conclusions will always be subjective since they are based on my own fallible judgment and not on any objective standard of truth. There is only one place to go for that truth: The Bible. The devil would love to keep us out of this book. In fact, one of his greatest missions is to snatch God's word from us so it cannot take root. In the parable of the sower, Satan snatches the Word. And Satan loves it when we test our "spiritual" experiences without reference to this Word. All along I did refer to the Bible but to my shame it was a rather shallow look. Instead of studying "to show myself approved, a workman who correctly handles the word of truth" I was relying more on a few proof texts and my experience to validate my experience. A closer look would make me more vulnerable and I was avoiding that. I may have had to admit that I was wrong. I don't like being wrong. But more than that, I hate being deceived - that's why you're reading this. I don't want others, perhaps you, to be deceived. I care very much about my brothers and sisters in Christ and I want to encourage them to an open and honest examination of the "Charismatic" experience and teaching.
Lets not also forget that Satan (whose schemes we are told we should be aware of and who comes as an angel of light, as do his messengers) is not above allowing a "blessing" as long as he can slip in some false doctrine with it. Spiritual warfare is not much different than real warfare: the enemy will give you anything you want as long as it will help achieve his overall aims. That includes real fruit as well as false fruit. When Moses struck the rock a second time in disobedience to God, the people were still blessed by the water that flowed, even though Moses was judged and not allowed to enter the promised land.
At this time, I believe millions of Christians are being led astray because they have not allowed their "spiritual" experiences to be "proved" in the light of God's infallible Word. Now I'm not saying this because I've interviewed millions of people and have documented the evidence but rather, I'm looking at a trend, which is evidenced, in a growing number of Churches world wide who are accepting and promoting non-Scriptural experiences. Many Christians are happy to attribute these experiences to God simply on the basis that they felt good, made them feel close to God, and were promoted by good people. But feeling good or sincere does not make you immune to deception and is no proof that your experience was from God. Some people will point past the feelings to positive fruit which they claim has come from their experience. But remember what we just said about warfare and Moses.
One such promoter of these experiences is Tommy Tenny who wrote "The God Chasers". He said, "A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument." What! Even if the argument comes from the Bible! The stance taken is this: "I've had my experience and there is no way you are going to argue me out of it." In other words, experience is put above the truth of God's word which itself says that we should not go beyond what is written, as in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 4:6); the very thing which many are now doing. In so doing they are exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:25).
This line of reasoning reminds me of the tongue-in-cheek saying, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." But this is no laughing matter. The problem is that experience and feelings are not a reliable guide to truth. Read that again and think on it. There is only one reliable guide to truth: God's Word. Furthermore, fruit can be false, tares are often sown among the wheat (see Jesus parable on this) and real fruit is also no sure proof that something is genuine. There is only one sure proof test: God's Word. Anyone not willing to test their experience by God's Word is a candidate for deception. Sadly, they may end up not just having the disease but being a carrier!
So, first, if I use my experience to validate my experience I have no way of knowing if I have been deceived. Why? My conclusions will always be subjective and always based on my own fallible judgement. If I test my experience this way, I am open to deception since my test is based on my own subjective and fallible judgment and not on any objective standard of truth, which God's Word is.
2) The fact still remains that I cannot validate what I do NOT understand! My words were not interpreted. So, "How do I know I am not speaking blasphemies?" I read an account once of a missionary returning to their home church & hearing a man speaking blasphemies against Christ in a service. The tongues speaker was convinced he was praising God, as was the congregation. But he was actually speaking terrible blasphemies in the language the missionary had trained in! In addition to this, since I don't know what I am saying, not only might it be blasphemy but, "How do I know that what I speak are actually words at all - and not just gibberish?" Fact is: I don't!
But don't I speak them in faith? Yes, but while the original Acts gift was spoken in faith it could also be interpreted! Every time! And according to 1 Cor. 14, not only could they be interpreted every time, they had to be interpreted. Every time! This was possible because Acts 2:4, 6, 8 & 11 make it clear: they were ALL, known foreign languages.
Tongues were a missionary gift for the early church.
1 Cor. 14 teaches that tongues were given to edify the church (ie. the whole body of Christ). But it also teaches that there can be no edification without understanding! Finally it teaches that there can be no understanding without interpretation! Therefore, edification comes via understanding and understanding via interpretation. Instead of edification, the Corinthian Church had confusion!!!!
In 1 Corinthians 14:1-33 is not commending the Corinthians but correcting a problem of the misuse of the gift of the real gift of tongues. It was misused because when spoken it was not interpreted to bring understanding so the body could be edified.
And edification of the whole body was the whole purpose of the gifts as 1 Chapter 12 makes clear.
A simple study of the frequency of certain words highlights the fact that tongues were meant to be understood
....whenever they were spoken!
The importance of edification (through interpretation which brings understanding) is spoken of 7 times.
The for need speech to produce understanding, certainty and fruitfulness is spoken of 10 times.
The need to interpret to bring understanding and therefore edification is mentioned 5 times.
Problems with some being unlearned, is spoken of 3 times. If unlearned, then no understanding.
Now note this:
all the CONFUSION that arises from these things NOT being done,
is contrasted 12 times with the CLARITY that comes from prophesying;
prophesying is speaking forth God's Word, in words that are, "easy to be understood" (v. 9).
Furthermore speaking in uninterpreted tongues is also described negatively as "speaking into the air", sounding like a foreigner, leaving others being unable to say "Amen" to a valid prayer. And so far, we haven't even got into a serious exegesis of the passage. This is just a simple word study!
Do you get the picture of what is going on in the Corinthian Church? One word sums it up. It's found in verse 33...
Confusion: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..."
The fact is that biblical tongues were never, given to edify the individual. Rather, they were one of many spiritual gifts given to edify the body. They were "for the common good" [NIV] "to profit withal" [KJV] (1Cor. 12:7). And as God COMMANDS us to buy TRUTH, WISDOM INSTRUCTION AND UNDERSTANDING "and sell it not!" (Prov. 23:23), then why would he give us unintelligible tongues to "communicate" with? Communicate???
How can there be communication without understanding? Apart from the fact that the idea of communicating to God in a language we don't understand is a bit of an oxymoron, it actually goes against the character and nature of God who COMMANDS us to worship him in Spirit AND in Truth. Not in Spirit OR Truth. Nowhere in Scripture are we told or taught that the worship of God bypasses the mind. Not once. Never! In fact, it teaches the exact opposite.
Since therefore I do not know what I am praying (and neither does anyone else who may hear me or anyone else who speaks in "ecstatic" tongues - as a private prayer language) then how dare I take the risk of coming to almighty God and seek to offer him my prayer and praise with my mind in neutral. If it is an ecstatic utterance that no one, including me, understands, then not only are others unable to say "Amen" to my prayer but even I myself cannot say "Amen" to my prayer. This is a doorway to deception and the demonic. 1 Cor. 14:13-19 makes it absolutely clear that without understanding of what is said, your words are unfrutiful AND THAT IS A BAD THING!
If it is the real gift, then it can be interpreted and that will be a good thing.
All words were meant to be understood, as the original gift of tongues were. Actually, that applies to any language. Language itself is a gift from God. It was given to Adam to communicate. Because the tongues spoken in Acts were known foreign languages they communicated. The gospel was proclaimed and souls were won. 3,000 of them.
I regret to say that until recently I have been deceived. At the beginning it was ignorance that kept me deceived. When I became suspicious it was nativity as I thought I could not be deceived. Eventually it was pride that for a time stopped me from admitting I had been deceived.
Since I have stopped praying in tongues, I have lost nothing of my passion for serving Christ, even in a time of trial which I am presently going through. In fact, I would say that I am more sure of who I am in Christ than ever before. I also have a renewed love for the lost, the reason the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 1:8). Interpreted tongues were one of the means that God used to bring the good news to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to Gentiles at Ephesus as per 1:8.
I believe 1 Cor. 14 addresses the issue of the misuse of the real gift (which was experiencned in Acts) because there was the expectation that it could and should be interpreted. But I also believe that this gift has now ceased. So what are today's tongues? I believe that today's tongues are not a misuse of the real gift but rather a counterfeit. Don't worry, if you speak in tongues, it does not mean that you are demon possessed. For most people I believe it is a learned experience and one that in many cases is actually taught. How many times have you heard the speaker say, "Repeat after me: bla, bla, bla...."
Note: in the Bible, a person is never taught to speak in tongues! In Acts, God just gave the gift supernaturally. No one was seeking it. And in Acts, it was always understood.
Do you ever wonder how in the world Satan will call together a one world church when the Churches are so divided?
This is not changing the subject. Hopefully you'll see the connection.
Someone said recently, "when two or more come together in Jesus name, there is division." So it's not going to be easy for Satan to bring about a one world church. I've been thinking about the above question for a long time and have come to the conclusion that it will involve the use of COMMON SIGNS that will be "experienced" by people in all religions, cults, occult, and non-religions. I believe that Tongues (today's conterfeit) and "slaying in the Spirit" (the latter is known as "serpent power" in the occult) are among those common signs. They are already having a uniting effect across denominations - even the Catholics who deny the atonement and "worship the wafer" (according to their own literature), are experiencing these things.
Some have reasoned from the fact that tongues is such a common experience, that we cannot say those with this experience have not had a real encounter with God. However it is dangerous to use the commonality of a sign to validate an experience as being from God. There is only one way to do that: from the Scriptures!
My sincere prayer is that the Lord will open your eyes as he did mine and that Christians will be saved from this deception.
How do we protect ourselves from deception. See Jesus prayer in John 17:17.
Food For The Soul
Food For The Soul