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A Look at Tongues #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
March 28, 2022 8:00 am

A Look at Tongues #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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March 28, 2022 8:00 am

Last time, Don spoke about the nature of biblical tongues. We learned that it was the supernatural ability to communicate in real foreign languages the speaker had not previously learned, in contrast to some indecipherable utterance no one could understand. Today, our teacher will look at certain limitations the Word places on the gift, and he'll also look at what's said about its duration. So have your Bible open...--thetruthpulpit.comClick the icon below to listen.

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The gift of tongues was not a spiritual free-for-all. God carefully prescribed the proper use of tongues in the church so that it would be channeled in the proper direction rather than creating chaos amongst the people of God.

We welcome you again to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and today Don continues teaching God's people God's Word as he takes us further into a series titled The Holy Spirit Today, and part two of a message called A Look at Tongues. Last time, Don spoke about the nature of biblical tongues. We learned that it was the supernatural ability to speak in real foreign languages that the speaker had not previously learned, in contrast to some indecipherable utterance no one could understand.

Today, our teacher will look at certain limitations the Word places on the gift, and he'll also examine what's said about its duration. So have your Bible open as we join Pastor Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. Point number two that I want to talk to you about today is the limitation of biblical tongues, or the limits on biblical tongues, you could say. The limits on biblical tongues.

Why are we approaching it like this? I was hoping you could tell me. No, I wasn't. It was rhetorical, not a request for information. We're approaching it from this perspective to help you see something really important, that the gift of tongues that God gave to the church during this transitional time was not a spiritual free-for-all. It was not a random occurrence that everybody was just going to go out and speak in tongues however and whenever they wanted to, and that we'd all just get together and talk in tongues however we wanted to. God carefully, in detail, prescribed the proper use of tongues in the church so that it would be channeled in the proper direction rather than creating chaos amongst the people of God. And you find these limits largely stated in the book of 1 Corinthians in chapter 12, 13, and 14.

And there's like five or six limitations that I want to point out to you from this text. Now, as most of you know, spiritual gifts are the focus of 1 Corinthians 12 through 14, and it is a very difficult passage to deal with. Many issues await the interpreter in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14. To just give you one measure of the complexity of these three chapters, John MacArthur's commentary on 1 Corinthians has 118 pages of explanation of chapters 12, 13, and 14.

And so there is a lot there, and we're not going to try to cover everything. We're not going to try to go verse by verse through these three chapters. Rather, what we want to do is to just lay down some markers that are obvious to set context for your understanding of the gift of tongues. And what we're trying to do here is to set context from the whole counsel of God's Word. You know, I think I can say this without fear of legitimate contradiction. The challenge in dealing with those who teach charismatic theology is they love to pick one or two verses out of context and just run with that and import all of their presuppositions and assumptions into one verse as if their one verse was proving everything that they said and using blinders and ignoring what God's Word says elsewhere.

We don't want to do that. The whole counsel of the Word of God should inform what we think about these things, and that's what we're going to try to do here. So I'm going to list out five limits on the gift of tongues for you to consider here. First of all, I want you to consider their limit in the canon.

Their limit in the canon. Now, when you talk to charismatics, man, they'll beeline for 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. If I were them, I would too. They'll go to the book of Acts, but you know what they won't discuss? You know what they won't tell you?

You know what they may not even be aware of themselves? Is that with the exception of one disputed passage in the Gospel of Mark, Acts and 1 Corinthians are the only places where tongues is talked about in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote 12 other letters besides 1 Corinthians. He doesn't mention tongues in any of them. His apostolic swan song is found in the pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, where he is making provision for the church and its leadership. After his imminent passing, he knows his time has come. You would think that if tongues were central to the functioning of the Christian church after his departure, he'd make a big issue of it because it was so important and critical for everybody to get it right.

Nary a word, not a word about that. When Jesus in the book of Revelation addresses the seven churches in the last word of God's revelation, he speaks to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, not a word about tongues. That should impact you if you've never thought about it and say, now wait a minute, that's interesting, that's almost kind of weird because I'm told by some that everybody ought to speak in tongues. If this is just a critical aspect of Christian experience, then why does so much of the New Testament not say anything about it? Why, when Jesus gives his last words to the churches in Revelation, not say anything about it?

Why does the apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, not say anything about it? Well, we need to realize that that kind of silence is inexplicable if speaking in tongues was central to the functioning of the church. You'll find all kinds of instruction about the Spirit, you'll find all kinds of instruction about the one anothers, you'll find all kinds of instruction about loving one another within the body of Christ because that is central, that is true.

And you'll find that emphasized as a common theme throughout all of the epistles, the emphasis on the word and sound doctrine and teaching riddled throughout the pages of the New Testament. Tongues, by contrast, the absence is glaring by comparison. And so there is a limit in the canon that cautions us against placing, just speaking in very, very general terms, that cautions us against placing too great of an emphasis on tongues. A balanced consideration of the fullness of the New Testament giving equal weight to all the parts of the New Testament would never take you there, never. It would take you to areas of unity and election and God's work in salvation and sanctification. Secondly, the limitation of biblical tongues, first of all there's a limit in the canon on it.

Secondly, and we're kind of working from the outside in, we're going from the outside big picture into increasingly precise detail. Secondly, the limit in distribution, the limit in distribution, and this is what I alluded to earlier when I got ahead of my notes. The limit in distribution means this, that tongues were never intended for every Christian, never. Go back to that passage that I read earlier just so that we'll have it fresh in our minds at this point in the message. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 30, we can just touch base on this lightly here. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 30 says, All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? The Greek grammatical construction there expects the answer no. It's a rhetorical device that is designed to make you say no to the question being asked. In other words, do all people speak in tongues in the Christian church?

No, they don't. That's this sense of what Paul is saying here. And so we see that tongues were never intended for every Christian. This was not meant to be a universal expression for all time of those who truly have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. What are the fruit of the Spirit in reality? What is the fruit of the Spirit in the Christian church?

Where do you find that stated? Galatians chapter 5, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law. What we look for now is the mark of the Spirit are these character traits and these attitudes that flow from the holy nature of God as being the mark of his presence in a life. And that's true for every Christian. Tongues? It says not all of them. Not all speak in tongues.

There was a limit on the distribution even then. And if you go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 11, you can see this. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 11 where it says, One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as he wills. So the Spirit gave gifts in different measures, in different quantities, in different combinations. He gives gifts to different people as he wills. Not all of them receive the gift of tongues even in this time of transition.

There was a limit on the distribution and it was the mark of the work of the Spirit of God. Now, some will ask a good question. They say, Well, what about Mark chapter 16? What about Mark chapter 16? Turn back there with me, if you will. Mark chapter 16.

I realize we're covering an awfully lot of ground today. Mark chapter 16 beginning in verse 16. It says, He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed.

Notice the plural there. These signs will accompany those who have believed. In my name they will cast out demons. They will speak with new tongues. Well, there you have it. There's the silver bullet that destroys everything I've been trying to say, right? Well, not so fast.

Not so fast. As we've stated in the past and is very well known among biblical scholars, Mark chapter 16 verses 9 through 20 almost certainly was not part of the original text of Scripture. This was a section that was added on subsequently by copyists later on. And because that text is disputed, beloved, no one should base an essential doctrine on any disputed text in Scripture. You should be able to find a teaching replicated elsewhere rather than depending on one disputed text to make your whole point. Because in every likelihood, this was never part of the original inspired manuscript to begin with. You can find marginal notes in your Bible to explain that.

But what if? What if you do accept Mark 16? Does everything collapse under that and does this show that everyone is now going to speak in tongues?

And everything that I've said collapses in the face of a silver bullet argument from a disputed text? No, beloved, even if you accept Mark 16, our position is still entirely unchanged. The apostolic community, broadly speaking, plural as a community, we see that the apostolic community did speak in tongues after Jesus' ascension. There were tongues that were spoken and we saw that and affirmed that from Acts chapter 2, 10, and 19. But that doesn't mean that every believer in every age will speak in tongues. If you let Scripture interpret Scripture, even if you accept Mark 16 as an original text, it is interpreted by the revelation found in 1 Corinthians that says not all speak in tongues. So you can understand Mark 16 from the sense it says the apostolic community, the early church, those who believe they did speak in tongues, some of them. But we see as revelation goes on that not all were ever intended to speak in tongues. That was not God's will.

That is not what happened. Mark 16 does not change the argument at all. Now, so we've talked about the limit in the canon, the limit in distribution. Stay with me now as we consider the limit in motivation. The limit in motivation, and for that I ask you to go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 13. 1 Corinthians chapter 13. As we said, as we said, spiritual gifts is the topic of consideration in chapters 12, 13, and 14. In the middle in chapter 13, between 12 and 14, at the 13th floor of the book, you might say, you find the famous love chapter. Now, I realize that a lot of people will read this and they'll read it at their marriage ceremony.

That's fine as far as it goes. We'll talk about love generally and what's the nature of love from chapter 13, and that's all okay as far as it goes. But beloved, what you must see is that this love chapter is qualifying the whole nature of the exercise of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14. This chapter on love is telling us how the spiritual gifts are to be used, the motivation for them, why we do what we do with the gifts that the Spirit gives to us. And in this chapter, Paul shows the surpassing importance of love over any other spiritual gift, specifically over tongues and prophecy even.

Look at verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 13. He says, If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I'm nothing. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. He's speaking hypothetically here.

He says, let's go to the uttermost extreme. If there were such a thing as angels having human language and I spoke in them, if I knew everything that there were to know about the mysteries of God and I could prophesy on them, if I gave all my possessions to feed the poor, if I gave my body to be burned in martyrdom for the sake of Christ and I didn't have love as I was doing any of those things, it would be utterly worthless. It would be meaningless because the point of the gifts is too that they would be exercised in love for fellow believers.

And if you extract love and you extract that focus on others in your exercise of the spiritual gifts, you have completely lost the reason that they are given in the first place. Look at 1 Peter 4 with me. Beginning in verse 8. He says, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.

Be hospitable to one another without complaint. And in that context of love, he says this in verse 10. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Has God gifted you?

Then you are to understand that He has done that so that you can be of loving service to others in the body of Christ. And that if you remove the motivation of love, you have removed the purpose of the gift. The gifts are not to be exercised apart from love for others in the midst of your exercise of them. The gifts are to be exercised in love. The first question is love, not your giftedness.

The first question is others, not your giftedness. Gifts given to be exercised for the benefit of others in the motivation of love. That's the purpose of the gifts. That's the limit on them. Gifts are not given so that one man can exalt himself in the presence of others.

Gifts are not given so a man can benefit from it privately. They are given for the benefit of others to be exercised in love. Fourthly, the limit in practice. Tongues were not to be indiscriminately spoken, but rather there were guidelines placed on the exercise even within the gathered body of the church. 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verse 13 says, Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. If there is going to be tongues, there must be interpretation. Look at verse 26.

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three and each in turn and one must interpret.

In other words, there must be order to the way that this is done. Speak not at the same time, but speak in alternation and there must be interpretation as you do. Verse 28, if there's no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God. Don't be speaking in tongues if there's not someone to interpret and give edification to others by what you are saying.

Don't do that, he says. Tongues were never given to cause confusion or uncertainty. There was to be an order leading to considered, intelligent, cognitive edification in what was being done.

Not being swept away by emotions, not falling over in a silly way just because somebody waved their hand at you. There was to be an order to this that led to an improvement of the spiritual mind that could be articulated in logical propositional thought. They were limited in their practice. And finally, the final limit that I want to address for today is their limit in duration. Their limit in duration. From the outset, tongues were designed to be temporary.

They were designed to be temporary. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 10 says this. I said 1 Corinthians 10, I needed to take you to verse 8. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 8. Love never fails.

Again, the priority of love here. But if there are gifts of prophecy, they'll be done away. If there are tongues, they will cease. If there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

Now, that perfect, whatever that perfect is, it could be the completed canon. It could be the return of Christ when we're in His presence. That's not so important for the point that we're making here today. What I want you to see is this, is that Scripture anticipates the cessation of tongues, which tells us that they were never meant to have an enduring priority in the church.

The enduring priority of the church was love done for edification to the benefit of others. But tongues were designed to cease. And what we can say today, 2,000 years later from this perspective, is this. Biblical tongues have ceased.

They have ceased. The tongues in which a man speaks fluently in a foreign language that he had never studied before, you do not see that happening. Instead, what you find is the idea of tongues being reinterpreted into some kind of prayer language that is unknown even to the speaker, something that they can do privately on their own for their own self edification that they get their own joy out of. And when you start to see that, you say, wait, time out, time out. This is not language.

This is not known, recognized language. You're doing this for your own benefit. You openly state, I'm doing, I pray in tongues in private for my own benefit. And that has nothing to do, that contradicts the spirit of the gifts and why God gave them in the first place.

We're gifted in order to serve others with what we do. No charismatic speaks in a real language, a known human language that they have not studied. They're doing something else.

What is it that they're doing? What are we to think of modern tongues today? We'll save that for next time. But we will address it next time, Lord willing. The question remains, should believers today be speaking in tongues? Pastor Don Green will again turn to the scriptures for the answer next time as he continues our series, The Holy Spirit Today. Be sure to join us then here on The Truth Pulpit. Right now, though, here again is Don with news of a special resource. Well, my friends, as we wrap up today's broadcast, I just want to say a quick word about the tremendous progress about the tremendous pressure that our culture is bringing against biblical morality. Even Christian leaders are starting to waffle on these most basic issues of biblical truth and righteousness.

But God's word has not changed. And I know that you, if you're a familiar listener to this broadcast, you want to stand firm on this issue just like I do. Well, what we want to do is put into your hands our series titled The Bible and Homosexuality.

It's available by CD or by free download. And my friend Bill is going to help you find it right now. Just visit us at thetruthpulpit.com and click on Radio Offers to learn more. That's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word on the truth pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 18:53:03 / 2023-05-14 19:01:52 / 9

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