Today we're going to address the question, should we pray in tongues or not?
And I have three parts that I want to give to you to answer that question for you. We're so glad you've joined us on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he is teaching God's people God's Word. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and we're continuing our series, The Holy Spirit Today, with part two of a message titled, Should We Pray in Tongues?
Last time, Don gave us the first of three points on the matter. A private prayer language is not the gift described in the Bible. Today, Don will explain why such prayers are not supernatural and in fact are not biblical prayers at all. So, friend, have your Bible handy.
Let's join our teacher now in the Truth Pulpit. The spiritual gifts are to be done for the edifications of others, and Paul's purpose here in these first four verses of chapter 14 is to show that prophecy was superior to tongues because people could be edified by it. He goes on and explains that if tongues are going to be exercised, there must be interpretation.
There must be interpretation. Look at 1 Corinthians 14, verse 13. You have to read what Paul said at the beginning of the chapter and read it all the way through and read it for everything that he says, not simply to highlight one or two verses that you can take, twist a little bit, and make it sound like what you're doing.
That's not how we handle Scripture. Verse 13, he says, Therefore, let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. The idea is that if there is a tongue going on, there should automatically, simultaneously be an interpretation that is going on. And if the interpretation is not there, the exercise of tongues is not the biblical gift. He goes on and he says that further in verse 27. He says, If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn and one must interpret. But if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church and let him speak to himself and to God.
What's he saying here? What's the point of this, and how does it relate to the question, should we pray privately in tongues? Well, as we saw last time, the gifts are given to be used in edification of others.
If you're alone doing this, no one's being edified by it. The motive, the purpose of the gift is being violated. If the biblical demand is for tongues to be accompanied by interpretation, and you're speaking in a tongue, a so-called tongue that you don't understand, you're violating the principle of interpretation. Interpretation is being violated. Love is being violated by this practice. He's already denied, rejected, refused the idea of praying without understanding.
He's already rejected that idea. In verse 14, chapter 14, verse 14, he says, and remember at verse 13, he said, Let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. There must be interpretation here so that we understand what's happening. He says, verse 14, If I pray in a tongue, a tongue that's not being translated, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. And he says, What is the outcome then? What shall we conclude from that reality?
What do we do with that? He says in verse 15, I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also. I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. He says, My mind, if I'm going to pray, I'm going to pray in a way that my mind understands and I won't pray unless that's happening.
I'll pray with my spirit and I'll pray with my mind also. He prays with his mind so that he understands what is transpiring as he speaks. Now, that's so much different than what is offered up as so-called private prayer in some charismatic circles. Their private tongues are not a known language. They do not convey truth. They do not edify others when they're done alone. And you start to realize all of the characteristics of the biblical gift of tongues from the Book of Acts and through a thorough consideration of 1 Corinthians are not satisfied, are not met by this practice that is so common in some circles today. Not a known language, not done for the purpose of edification, not conveying truth, not engaging the mind.
Wow. God demands that we worship Him according to His truth, that we worship Him according to truth. We can't just make something up on our own and go off on our own realm. As our friend John MacArthur taught, you know, that didn't go too well for the two priests in Leviticus 10 who offered up unauthorized fire.
God slew them for not taking His holiness seriously and for offering Him worship that was not authorized. This is very serious. I do not believe that everybody that's doing that is giving voice to demonic spirits. I don't believe that for reasons that will become obvious in what I have to say here. And I also don't believe that they're necessarily intentionally trying to deceive themselves. The nature of deception is you don't realize you're deceived, right? If you knew you were deceived, you'd get out of it.
And so I don't think that. But I do want to give you some perspective here. When you only see this thing being discussed or even practiced in its own context, it can seem a little bit intimidating, it can seem a little bit overwhelming.
What is going on there? Maybe it is from God and you start to, you know, your mind starts to go down that way. But when you put it into a broader context, you say, ah, that ain't what's going on at all. There's something else that explains what's going on here.
There's also another perspective here that I want to add and just give you some information to justify what I'm about to say right now. What's going on with that private prayer language? It is not supernatural. It is not even uniquely Christian. It is not supernatural.
It is not even uniquely Christian. There is a very valuable resource that I have in my library. It's all since been updated with a new edition that I don't have access to at the moment. But the original book published by Zondervan is titled The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. It is a 911 page reference book on all things charismatic and pentecostal. In this reference book describing speaking in tongues, you find an extended passage. This is sad to me.
This saddens me to tell you this. It has a lengthy section describing speaking in tongues taking place in many non-Christian settings. You might not know that. You might not realize that. And it lists setting after setting of these things. This is not a cessationist reference book. It's not intending to defend the cessationist position.
It's just trying to be honest and give you full information. What does it say? It says that tongues are found among spiritual mediums. Tongues can occur due to causes such as organic neurological damage, drugs, psychotic disorders. In the 20th century, tongues have been found in non-Christian areas, non-Christian parts of the world, in Malaysia, Siberia, Indonesia, China, Japan, and Korea, among other areas that I'm not choosing to recite here.
The sounds of these so-called tongues range from mumbles and grunts through esoteric languages and imitations of animal speech. Beloved, these people doing this and these things that they are doing are not even Christian. They don't even pretend to be Christian. And yet, it models, it follows exactly the kind of thing, the dynamics that you see going on in charismatic circles today. Beloved, remember what we said about the nature of true signs, biblical signs? They were real miracles. They were real things like real organic healings of men with withered hands being healed visibly in the presence of witnesses in an undeniable way. That men were raised from the dead in real, invisible, and undeniable ways. That tongues were languages that native speakers recognized and affirmed. We hear them speaking the Word of God in our own language. And these are things that are supernatural, belonging to the true omnipotence of God. And God is able to give, and did give, signs like that to His church to certainly authenticate His revelation in a way that was incontestable to the unbiased mind.
Incontestable to the unbiased mind. Are we to believe, then, that God's gift to a church today is a private prayer language that violates everything His Word says about what real tongues were? Are we to believe that these private prayer languages supposedly from God mirror the very thing that pagans throughout the world are doing? Where's the distinguishing mark? Where is the thing that says this is something that only the real God could do? Why would He give that, which is counterfeit, to His people if it doesn't distinguish true Christianity from pagan practices? Where's the distinguishing mark that says, oh, this is where I can go, this is what I could follow? If you're just going to follow the signs, you could run right into spiritual mediums.
If that's what you want to do, if tongues are the gateway drug to true spirituality, you have no promise whatsoever that you're going to end up in the truth. Why would God do that? Why would God put His church at such vulnerability to deception by giving them that which is mirrored in false religion? Why would He do that? Here's a clue.
He wouldn't, and He didn't. Now, and so what is happening? Well, another theologian that I really like, Anthony Hoikama, shows in his book, What About Tongue Speaking? shows that simple psychology, simple psychology, simple operation of the human mind can account for much of the tongue's activity that you see in other circles. He says, and I quote, When one belongs to a group in which it is expected that those most advanced spiritually will speak with tongues? When much emotional pressure is being applied in the pursuit of the gift of tongues, have you spoken in tongues? Have you been seeking it?
Is there sin in your life? Why aren't you speaking in tongues? Great pressure put on vulnerable people. When seekers of the gift are even told to loosen the tongue by saying, Abba, Abba, Beta, Beta, and the like, if all of those things are true, it would be strange indeed if no one began to do what everyone was expecting. The power of suggestion, group dynamics, the capacity of the human mind to act upon the human body and produce results explains so much. And if you're in a context where it's being affirmed, encouraged, told to sort, and you're not being told the other side of the story, then it's very easy to just get swept away with it all and assume that it's true. And it's just the ramblings of a human mind having no true value of worship to God. It's very sad.
It's very sad. And so what we see is this. Normally I give the point before I explain it.
This time I forgot, and I'll give you the point now so that you can go back and fill it in in your notes. The point is this, is that this private prayer language idea is not supernatural. It's not supernatural.
It has perfectly human explanations to show why it is happening, and that is verified by the fact that it happens in many non-Christian circles. We underestimate the power of suggestion. We underestimate the capacity of the human mind to produce effects that might otherwise seem inexplicable. Now, let's go to point number three that I think is the most compelling of them all. Personally, point number three, and just to be clear, point number two was a private prayer language is not supernatural. It is not supernatural.
Now that brings us to point number three. Thirdly is this, a private prayer language is not biblical prayer. A private prayer language is not biblical prayer. Whatever else you think about the passages in 1 Corinthians, whatever else you think about the social phenomenon in other places, we have to come back to this preeminent point. Who is Lord to us?
Jesus Christ, right? And what He says to us is law for us. It is the final authority for us about who He is, about the purpose of His death, about what we are to do as His disciples. Need I remind you that Jesus instructed us very specifically in how He wanted His disciples to pray? Look at Matthew chapter 6. At the end of Matthew chapter 7 in verse 28, when Jesus had finished these words, these words in the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes. Jesus meant what He was saying. This is it, right from the lips of the Lord.
And what did Jesus do? What did He say about prayer to His disciples? He said to them in verse 9, He said, using an imperative, He said, Pray then in this way.
Pray like this. When you speak to God, here is how I command you as my disciple to speak to Him, to address Him. And what follows?
You know it, don't you? You know it is the Lord's Prayer. Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen. What has He just told us to do? He is telling us and He gives us themes and says, You pray in intelligent language to God.
You think about what you're saying and you pray according to these themes, according to understanding informed by revealed truth. Our Father which is in heaven, I address you as my God. I know that you are beyond this realm. Hallowed be your name. I worship you.
I praise you. According to the fullness of your revealed character. This is the mind. This is not something senseless, mindless that you don't understand. This calls forth the engagement of your intellect, the engagement of your brain so that you are thinking about what you are saying to God that your worship would be real and informed by truth. It's intelligent language. You say, well, okay, I'll concede to that point, but you haven't said anything. There's nothing here that forbids the idea of a private prayer language, of saying things that I don't understand.
Why can't it be both and instead of either or? Well, it's like Jesus anticipated the discussion. Look at verse 7 of chapter 6. He says, and when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Should you pray when you don't understand what you're saying? Should you pray in a way that is meaningless, that you can't articulate the meaning of it? Jesus forbids it. He says don't use meaningless words.
The word has the idea of babble, to speak without thinking, idle talk, movement of the lips without meaning, without engagement of the heart, soul, and mind. Don't do that, he says. And some of our charismatic friends say, I've got a language I pray and I have no idea what I'm saying.
And I say, that's so sad. You're missing prayer 101 from the lips of Jesus himself. The positive side, pray in this way, the negative side, don't pray like that. Besides, whatever happened to the greatest commandment? Whatever happened to the greatest commandment in this discussion? You know what Jesus said, it's the greatest commandment. You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You do not turn off your mind in your love for God. You do not turn off your mind when you pray to him. You are to pray in dependence with understanding. So should we pray in tongues? No.
No, not at all. You say, but it says in 1 Corinthians 14, it says, don't forbid speaking in tongues. To which I say, that's right. In that time, with the real biblical gift of known human language, Paul said, don't forbid it when it's properly practiced in the church. That has nothing to do with you calling your giraffe of prayer a dog.
It has nothing to do with that. I agree with the friend of Truth Community Church, John MacArthur, on tongues who said this, and I quote. He said, the modern charismatic version of tongues consists of non-miraculous, nonsensical gibberish that cannot be translated. It is a learned behavior that does not conform to any authentic human language. Rather than being used as a tool to edify the church, contemporary charismatics use the fabrication as a private prayer language for the purpose of self-gratification. Though they justify their practice because it makes them feel closer to God, there is no biblical warrant for such unintelligent babble. It is a false spiritual high with no sanctifying value. The fact that modern speaking in tongues parallels pagan religious rites should serve as a dire warning of the spiritual dangers that can be introduced by this unbiblical practice. End quote.
Beloved, if you're charismatic friends, charismatic maybe some open but cautious guys that you follow in their teaching, they talk to you about their tongues, please understand something, I beg you. Please understand that you're not missing anything, that there's nothing real there, there's no there there. Please understand and remember that experience will deceive you. Please understand and remember that experience does not determine divine truth. Period.
End of sentence, end of paragraph, end of story. Beloved, let the word of God guide you in life and prayer. It will never deceive you. It is your only and sure guide. As Pastor Don Green has reminded us today, much like the other supernatural gifts, the biblical gift of tongues was ordained by God for a specific time and specific people, namely believers in the first century church. With the completion of the biblical canon, such a gift is no longer necessary, so it's no longer in effect.
Indecipherable babblings bear no resemblance to the real thing. Next time, Don will begin a look at prophecy as he continues our series, The Holy Spirit Today, here on The Truth Pulpit. Don't miss a moment. Right now, Don's back here in studio with some closing words.
Hi, friend. As we close today, I just want to make something available to you. You know, as you listen to these radio broadcasts, they have to fit into a 25-minute format, and we're very grateful for the opportunity the Lord's given us to do just that. But the radio messages are born out of a longer sermon message that contains more information, more background, a fuller explanation of the passage than what we're able to do on radio. So I encourage you to go to our website and find the link that says, Follow Don's Pulpit. That will lead you to a podcast that gives you the full-length sermons from every Sunday and every Tuesday from my pulpit. I really think that it will minister to you over time to hear the full-length messages, so we make that available for free, and we would love you to join us in that way as well. Thanks, Don. And friends who take advantage of what Don just mentioned, just visit thetruthpulpit.com. Once again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 02:46:46 / 2023-05-14 02:55:25 / 9