The Speaking in Tongues Claim

The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)


Text: Mark 16:15-20

Loved ones, there are many claims made by men

that are not in harmony with the plain teaching of the Bible.

When human claims conflict with the teaching of the Bible,

we may rest assured that the claims are false,

for the Bible is Right (Psalm 33:4).

There are two major views within the community of “Christendom”

relative to the nature of speaking in “tongues.”

The “Pentecostals,” or “charismatics,” contend that

the gift of tongues constituted a type of “heavenly language,”

a series of unintelligible sounds that are unrelated

to normal human speech.

By way of contrast, others argue, with much greater force,

that the gift of a “tongue” was simply the divinely imposed ability

to communicate the Gospel of Christ in a human language

that the speaker had not been taught by the ordinary education process.

The “human language” view is supported overwhelmingly

by the biblical evidence.

For many years, men have claimed

to speak in tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost,

and in recent years a few brethren of the Lord's church

have gone off after this tongue speaking claim.

We are surprised at these brethren

who became members of the Lord's church

through their obedience to the Gospel of Christ.

It is surprising that they were members of the church so long

before God decided to use them in the way of speaking in tongues.

We wonder why God waited so long

before starting them to speak in tongues?

If speaking in tongues is so important,

why didn't God start them speaking as soon as they obeyed the Gospel?

What profit is tongue speaking in this day and time, anyway?

If other nations are now being taught

the word of God in their own respective language,

what profit is derived from speaking in tongues?

Be it remembered that speaking in tongues was for the purpose

of teaching other nations, and was therefore profitable.

God does not, and never has engaged in things of no profit.

Through His prophet Isaiah, God said, “I am the Lord thy God

which teacheth thee to profit” (Isa. 48:17).

Through His judge and prophet Samuel, God warned the Israelites,

“Turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things,

which cannot profit nor deliver, for they are vain” (1 Sam. 12:21). 

 God’s people have always been condemned

when they walk after things that are of no profit.

James asked, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith,

 and have not works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14-16).

In First Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, the Holy Spirit guided Apostle Paul

gives a discourse on the miraculous spiritual gifts

that were necessary during the 1st century infant stage of the church.

In First Corinthians 12:8-10, the nine gifts of the Spirit are listed (READ).

Verse 7 points out that "the manifestation of the Spirit is

given to every man to profit withal."

Unfortunately, due to the carnal nature of the Corinthians,

those who were blessed to receive one of these 9 spiritual gifts

began to abuse them by exhaling one gift above the other.

Paul therefore had to show them a “more excellent way” in chapter 13.

This was the way of love, and he declared that without love

the use of these gifts would profit them nothing (vs. 1-3).

Turn in your Bibles to First Corinthians 14.

In this chapter, Paul makes an effort to stop the abuses

and give the Corinthian brethren a better understanding

of the gift of prophecy, and regulate the gift of speaking in tongues.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the miraculous gift of prophecy

was more profitable than the gift of tongues (READ vs. 1-2).

For your understanding listen to this expanded version of verse 2:

“For he who speaks in a foreign language [when no interpreter is

present], is not speaking [meaningfully] to men, but [only] unto

God; for no man [in the audience who is of an alien language]

understands [what is being said]; he [the speaker] is speaking

mysteries [that which the listener cannot comprehend by virtue of

the language barrier], even though he speaks in the spirit.”

He goes on to say in verses 6-9 (Read).

These verses again prove that those who spoke in tongues

were speaking in a language that could be understood. 

It was not some practiced jabber that no one understood.

When Christ sent His 12 apostles out under the limited commission,

He told them to "go NOT in the way of the Gentiles, and into any city

of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep

of the house of Israel."

He gave them power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers,

raise the dead, cast out devils and said, "Freely ye have received,

freely give" (Matt. 10:5-8).

But there is no record that He gave them power to speak in tongues.

Why? Why didn't He give them power to speak in tongues?

The answer is clear: speaking in tongues would have been of no profit,

for they were sent only to those of their own nation.

 But when Jesus went to Golgotha's rugged summit

and was suspended on the Old Rugged Cross and died,

breaking down the wall that discriminated between Jews and Gentiles,

and was taken down and buried in the heart of the earth

where He remained for three days and three nights

and got up the third day with all authority in heaven and in earth,

He told His disciples to "Go and teach all nations" (Matt. 28:18-19).

 How could they teach all nations

if they could not speak the language of the different nationalities?

Here is where the tongues are profitable;

yes, here is where they were needed to carry out the Master's directive.

 Beloved, the tongues were promised

for the purpose of teaching different nationalities

and confirming the word.

The proof is in the Great Commission.

 Turn now to the text that was read during the Scripture reading

(Mark 16:15-20).

 After having told His disciples to go and preach the Gospel

unto every creature, and that those who believed

and were baptized would be saved,

He promised them that they would speak with "new tongues" (vs. 17),

which was the only way they could preach the Gospel

to every creature as He had commanded them.

 But He said further in verse 18, "They shall take up serpents and if they

drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay

 hands on the sick and they shall recover.”

 Isn't it strange that these fellows who claim to speak in tongues

will run like a sage hen from a snake?

Isn't it strange that all who are bitten by a poisonous snake today

either die or come close to dying?

 Not long ago some fellows died who drank deadly poison.

They died because they were ignorant

of the teaching of the Word of God.

The record says, "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them,

He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them,

and confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:19-20).

 Why can't these blind claimants see

that the Word has already been confirmed (Heb. 2:2-3),

and our job is to hear, believe, and obey it?

 Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent

                        me draw him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 

It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught

of God.  Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath

                        learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45).

 You see, after a person hears, learns and believes the Gospel,

Jesus will give that person eternal salvation

when they obey Him by repenting and being baptized (Heb. 5:8-9).

And then another thing, let’s go back to First Corinthians 13:8.

Here Paul points out that tongues were only temporary,

for he said, "Whether there be tongues, they shall cease.”

In verse 10 He told them WHEN the gift of tongues would cease,

for he said, "When that which is perfect is come, then,

that which is in part shall be done away" (vs. 10).

But what is that which is perfect?

David answers in Psalm 19:7.

He said, "The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul."

The Lord was at that time in the process

of revealing His perfect law of freedom to the apostles and prophets,

for Paul said in verse 12, "For now we see through a glass darkly

(in other words, it isn't clear to us at this time), but then face to

face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also

I am known" (1 Cor. 13:12).


In other words, at that time miraculous spiritual gifts were necessary

because God’s New Testament law was fragmentary, not fully revealed.

But when completely revealed, it would be as plain as man

looking face to face with man.

As the NT Law of the Lord was revealed,

the apostles and prophets wrote it

that we may read and understand it (Eph. 3:1-5).

 So now, those who look into the perfect law of liberty,

and continue therein, will be blessed in our deeds (James 1:22-25).

Now here’s another point from First Corinthians chapter 14

that these so-called modern day tongue speakers seem to overlook.

When those in the 1st  century  really spoke in tongues,

only men were allowed to do it, and they had to do it by course,

that is, one at a time (READ 1 Cor. 14:27-28).

This passages says that only 2 or at the most 3 were allowed to speak,

and one had to tell what was said.

If they had no interpreter, they were not allowed to speak in the church.

So far as the women were concerned,

God has never permitted a woman to speak in tongues.

I heard one preacher say that God knew

that one tongue was enough for a woman!

Help me Lord, I’m getting in trouble now.

Look down to verses 34 & 35. 

Paul said, "Let your women keep silence in the churches:

for it is not permitted unto them to speak;

but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith

 the law, and if they will learn anything, let them ask their

                        husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak

in the church" (verses 34-35).

But, what is he talking about?

From the context of all 3 chapters (12-14),

we have clearly shown that he is talking about prophesying,

spiritual revelations, and speaking in tongues.

These are the subject of chapter 14,

and no one can ignore the subject and rightly divide these verses.

Even some of our brethren have ignored the subject,

and they have a hard time trying to explain these verses.

If we were to ignore the subject,

we couldn't preach to another man's wife,

for it said, "If she would learn anything,

let her ask her husband at home" (vs. 35).

We couldn't even preach to an ignorant man, for verse 38 says,

"If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."

Let's be honest now and not ignore the subject

of the 14th chapter of First Corinthians.

Again, we must remember that tongues mean language,

and not a practiced jabber (Acts 2:6-14).

During the 1st century infant state of the church,

God, by the Holy Spirit, enabled some to speak

in different kinds of tongues (or languages)

in order to teach the different nations.

We should always remember that the apostles

could not carry out the Great Commission to teach all nations

as the Lord had commanded them

until the Holy Spirit came to guide them (John 16:13).

In Luke 24:47-49, Jesus said, "That repentance and remission of sins

should be preached in his name among all nations,

beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.

And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you:

but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”

 He also told them that they would receive power,

after the Holy Ghost is come upon them (Acts 1:8).

This promise was fulfilled on the great day of Pentecost (Turn to Acts 2).

 On that day the Spirit gave the apostles the power

to speak in the “unknown” tongues.

The Bible says in Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,

and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit

gave them utterance." 

 Other tongues simply meant another language.

 Notice verse 6, "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came

 together, and were confounded, because that every man heard

                        them speak in his own language."

This clearly shows that tongues mean language.

But let us notice the next two verses.

"And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another,

Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we

every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" (vs. 7-8).

 Can't we see it?

In verse six he called the tongues language,

and in verse eight, he called the language tongues.

 In the strict sense of the matter,

there is no such thing as an altogether “unknown” tongue.

There is not a tongue (or language) that is not known to somebody.

The teaching here is that to different nations it is unknown.

 That is why they were confounded and amazed.

They heard these Galileans speak their language.

About sixteen or seventeen different nationalities

heard them speak their language (vs. 9-11).

 This was not a practiced jabber,

but a language that they heard and understood (verses 8, 11).

How unlike the claimants of today.

 On the day of Pentecost they saw the tongues sitting on them (Acts 2:3).

The Bible says, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues

like as of fire and sat upon each of them."

The word “appeared” means to come into sight.

The Moffett translation says “they saw tongues like flames,

one resting on the head of each.”

 Have you seen tongues sitting on anyone's head?

To ask this question is to answer it.

Surely we all know that this was the beginning

of the Gospel of the Christian dispensation

and the beginning of everything required a miracle.

 We are aware of the fact that God is the same God,

but we must remember that God began everything

with the extraordinary,

after which He established a law of propagation

by which each thing was reproduced.

 It would make as much sense to ask God

to form another man out of the dust of the earth

and breathe into his nostrils the breath of life

so he can become a living soul,

and make him go into a deep sleep

and take a rib from his side and make another full grown woman,

as it is to ask Him to give men

direct power by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues.

 Why is it that all of our Pentecostal or charismatic friends

that claim to speak in tongues must train their missionaries

to speak the language of the people to which they are being sent?

 Loved ones, the supernatural measure of the Holy Spirit

was given only to the apostles and prophets

and those on whom they laid their hands.

What apostles laid hands on those who claim to speak in tongues today?

Think about it friends.


Go To: Lessons for Spiritual Growth

Return To Home Page