LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies   Links

 

 

 

 

SPEAKING IN TONGUES—A GIFT OF THE SPIRIT

 

 

R. R. Byrum, one time Professor of Systematic Theology in the Anderson College and Theological Seminary, states:

 

Two errors in doctrinal teaching have been characteristic of nearly all of the ‘modern tongues movements.’ First, they affirm that all who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues ass the evidence. Second, it is held that the Scriptures make a difference between the gift of tongues and speaking in tongues, or that one may speak in tongues without possessing the gift. These two theories are fundamental to the ‘modern tongues movement’ and give it its character. If one believes these two doctrines and is conscientious, he will feel obligated to seek until he speaks in tongues, however long a time that may be.[1]

 

These two doctrines: (a) Speaking in tongues is the “initial, physical evidence” of the Holy Spirit baptism, and (b) There is a difference between speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues are inseparable; they must stand or fall together. In other words, if one of these doctrines is false then the other one is false and should be treated as one would any other false doctrine.

Carl Brumback, author of the book What Meaneth This, which is said to contain “. . . the most complete exposition of the present-day Pentecostal teaching concerning the tongues that has yet been published”[2], states in his work: “If there is a clear distinction between the tongues phenomenon in Acts and that in 1 Corinthians, then the Pentecostal argument for tongues as the initial, physical evidence is well-nigh irrefutable. If not, then the Pentecostal theology on the evidence teaching suffers a severe blow. This is, perhaps, the decisive point of the entire controversy.”[3]

The basis for the “artificial distinction” that there is a difference between “speaking in tongues” and the “gift of tongues” is stated in the following extracts which have been taken from books written by outstanding Pentecostal preachers:

(a) Carl Brumback writes: “. . . at Pentecost there were one hundred and twenty speaking in tongues, all at one time! How many spoke at Caesarea we know not, but surely their number exceeded three. And at Ephesus Paul himself allowed twelve to speak with tongues in one meeting and that not by course! Now if all speaking with tongues is the gift, then all these believers, the apostles included, were out of order. How are we to explain this contradiction between the two phases of tongues? Certainly, the Holy Spirit would not inspire and give utterance in Acts to that which He afterwards condemns in Corinthians!”[4]

(b) Jonathan D. Bright says in his book: “Even Paul had at least twelve speaking in tongues without calling for an interpreter, notwithstanding he had set the maximum for the exercise of the gift at three, and that on the condition the messages be interpreted in turn. Now if all speaking in tongues is the same in use, and that use is defined in 1 Corinthians 14, then the whole Church at Ephesus, Apostles included, was very much out of order. How are we to interpret this contradiction, apostolic instruction and apostolic practice, unless we see a clear distinction in the use?”[5]

Now the argument as set forth in the foregoing extracts is the principal one that the Pentecostal people use to support the “artificial distinction” that there is a difference between “speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance” and the “gift of tongues.”

Again I call the reader’s attention to the statement that Carl Brumback has made. Observe carefully: “If there is a clear distinction between the tongues phenomenon in Acts and that in 1 Corinthians, then the Pentecostal argument for tongues as the initial, physical evidence is well-nigh irrefutable. If not, then the Pentecostal theology on the evidence teaching suffers a sever blow.”

In other words, if there is no difference between the tongues manifestation in Acts and that in 1 Corinthians then the Pentecostal theology on the evidence teaching “suffers a severe blow,” according to Mr. Brumback. The seven undeniable facts which follow prove conclusively that there is absolutely no difference, whatsoever, between speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues.

1. Since the fact that three or more prophesying at the same time in Ephesus (Acts 19:6, 7), when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, does not prove that there must of necessity be a “clear distinction” between prophesy as a “sign” and prophecy as a “gift,” neither does the fact that three or more speaking in tongues at the same time in Ephesus (Acts 19:6, 7), when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, prove that there must of necessity be a “clear distinction” between tongues as a “sign” and tongues as a “gift.”

2. Since the fact that three or more prophesying at the same time in Jerusalem, a number of years after the day of Pentecost (Acts 4:31) when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit does not prove that there must of necessity be a “clear distinction” between prophecy as a “sign” and prophecy as a “gift,” neither does the fact that three or more speaking in tongues at the same time, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4–11) when they  were baptized with the Holy Spirit prove that there is a “clear distinction” between tongues as a “sign” and tongues as a “gift.”

3. The modern theory which teaches that speaking with tongues is the “initial, physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an unscriptural and utterly false doctrine for the simple reason that some of the 120 Galileans who were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost did not speak in other tongues. No one can successfully refute this statement. Some of the 120 praised God in their own native tongue, not in some foreign tongue. This fact alone refutes the “tongues evidence” theory.

4. The modern theory which teaches that speaking with tongues is the “initial, physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an un-Scriptural and utterly false doctrine because there is not one single text in all the Bible that can be cited to support it. As a matter of fact, speaking in tongues is intended primarily as a sign to unbelievers, not to believers. (See 1 Corinthians 14:22).

Mr. Brumback frankly admits that the phrase “initial, physical evidence” is not found in the New Testament. This expression or term originated with the Pentecostal people. Here are Mr. Brumback’s exact words, read them carefully: “Occasionally, we have been accused of coining an un-Scriptural term in referring to the relationship of tongues to the baptism as the ‘initial, physical evidence’. It must be conceded that the words ‘initial, physical evidence; do not appear in the Scriptures.”[6]

Pastor Donald Gee or Toronto, Canada, makes practically the same statement in his booklet. He writes: “. . . the New Testament contains no plain categorical statement anywhere as to what must be THE sign.”[7]

5. Writing several years ago, F. F. Bosworth, nationally known evangelist, stated:

 

At a . . . State Council of the Assemblies of God, when the Chairman of the Council was asked by one of the young ministers if there was a passage or a number of passages upon which to base this distinction, he publicly admitted that there was not a single passage. Charles F. Parham, who came forward with this doctrine in the year 1900, was the first man in the history of the world to publicly teach this doctrine. He saw that it was not possible to teach that speaking in tongues will in every case accompany the Baptism of the Spirit, unless he could make it appear that the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was something distinct from the gift of tongues at Corinth. He was also the first to teach that none have been baptized in the Spirit except those who have spoken in tongues.

The fact is that hundreds of the greatest soul winners of the entire Christian era, without the gift of tongues, have had a much greater enduement of power and have been used to accomplish a much greater and deeper work than has Mr. Parham.[8]

 

6. The modern theory that speaking with tongues is the “initial, physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an un-Scriptural and utterly false doctrine because God has been baptizing thousands of people with the Holy Spirit since the days of the apostles without the “sign.” There should not be any debate on this point—the evidence that can be produced to support this statement is too overwhelming.

The late T. B. Barratt, the famed Norwegian Pentecostal pastor and author of the book In the Days of the Latter Rain (for which he received the King’s prize), make the following statement: 

 

Let me again lay stress on the fact, that although there are other evidences of the indwelling Spirit, it is clearly stated in Acts that the Apostles, when tongues were heard in Jerusalem and Caesarea, considered this to be a sure sign of the Baptism of the Hoy Ghost. No one can read the account given in the tenth chapter of Acts with a fair mind and doubt this. Still I believe that many have had and that people may obtain in our day might baptisms without this sign.

The Holy Ghost may nevertheless set up His throne within mighty power where tongues have not been heard. This is seen from the lives and works of many.[9]

 

Mr. Brumback appears to agree, in part, at least, with the late T. B. Barratt: He says, “It would appear from the available records that most of the great saints of their dispensation, who lived previous to this Twentieth Century, did not receive an infilling with the Spirit which included speaking with other tongues. This is cited frequently as proof of the error of the ‘tongues evidence’ teaching.”[10]

Of one thing we are certain: When on is baptized with the Holy Spirit he has a great burden for lost souls to be saved; where there is no real soul-burden, there is no real Holy Spirit baptism—the two experiences are inseparable. From the very excellent book Holiness and Power by Rev. A. M. Hills we take the following: 

 

The baptism with the Spirit gives an enduring fullness of spiritual life that is characterized by a great passion for souls. Says Dr. Peck: ‘I have had a greater love for my work. I always loved it intensely, but it has seemed to possess me. The salvation of dying men has been a passion.’ David Brainerd said of himself: ‘I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls to Christ.’ John Smith, the mighty Wesleyan preacher of England used to say: ‘God has given me such a sight of the value of precious souls, that I cannot live if souls are not saved. O give me souls or else I die!’ Whitefield said: ‘O God, give me souls or take my soul!’ Whoever is baptized with the Holy Ghost will have a kindred passion for souls. Minister or laymen, man or woman, will feel this passion to win the perishing, for it is ‘the mind of Christ.’[11]

 

7. Speaking in tongues as on the day of Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus, is not the “initial, physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for St. Peter calls the speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost a “gift”.  In Acts 11:17 we read, “Forasmuch then as God gave them (the Caesareans) the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” Notice the expression “the like gift”; Weymouth translates, “the same gift”; the Twentieth Century New Testament translates, “the very same gift”; Moffat translates, “exactly the same gift.”

I have in my possession a book by Robert Chandler Dalton, B.S., B.D., which I purchased from the Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri. In it appears this statement: “On the ‘Day of Pentecost’ we know that ‘they were all filled with the Holy Ghost’, and began to manifest the glossolalic phenomenon [speaking in tongues]. In the case of Cornelius and those in his household the evidence is again that they showed the same phenomenon [speaking in tongues]. Peter states in the eleventh chapter of Acts to the Church at Jerusalem that it was the ‘like gift’ [speaking in tongues] that made him sure that they had received the Holy Spirit and that the Gentiles were to be saved.”[12]

Evidently Mr. Dalton believes, according to the above statement, that the glossolalic phenomenon which accompanied the baptism of the Caesareans was a gift and that it made St. Peter sure that they had received the Holy Spirit. Notice his words: “Peter states in the eleventh chapter of Acts to the Church at Jerusalem that it was the ‘like gift’ [the glossolalic phenomenon] that made him sure that they had received the Holy Spirit . . .” Speaking in tongues as on the day of Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus is nothing more than one of the gifts of the Spirit. It is not what the Pentecostal people call the “initial, physical evidence: of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The following extract was written by Principal George Jeffreys, the most outstanding Pentecostal preacher in London and founder and leader of the Elim Four Square Gospel Alliance, and is both enlightening and irrefutable. Notice how Mr. Jeffreys answers one of his critics.

 

CRITIC: ‘the ability to speak in unknown tongues was not a gift; it was a sign; and there is a scriptural distinction between gifts and signs. The former are permanent, the latter are temporary. Now there is no reference to tongues as a gift in the Acts of the Apostles, which of course marks it as one of the signs that has served its purpose and gone.’

ANSWER: The speaking with tongues that accompanies the disciples at Pentecost was a gift as well as a sign. This is conclusively proved by T. J. McCrossan, B.A., B.D., formerly teacher of Greek in Manitoba University: ‘Just here let us compare Acts 2”4 with Acts 4:31. Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled (eplesthesan, Aorist tense or past completed action) with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave (edidou, Imperfect tense, or continued and repeated action) to them to utter forth.” Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled (eplesthesan—the same word and the same Aorist tense as Acts 2:4) with the Holy Ghost, and they spake (elaloun, Imperfect tense of laleo, I speak—continued or repeated action) the Word of God with Boldness.” Note, these persons in Acts 4:31 were just as completely filled with the Holy Ghost as those in Acts 2:4, for the very same Greek word and the very same Aorist tense are used in both cases to designate the completed filling. However, when they were filled, those in Acts 2:4 spoke in other tongues, and continued to do so, as the Spirit gave (edidou, Imperfect tense) them to utter forth; while those in Acts 4:31, after their completed baptism or filling, as brought out by the use of the aorist tense, spoke (elaloun, Imperfect tense) the word of God, with boldness, and continued to do so, as the imperfect tense in Greek always signifies continue or repeated past action. The saints of Acts 2:4 therefore most assuredly received the gift of tongues after their baptism; those of Acts 4:31 the gift of prophecy. With thousands of unsaved Jews present, who spoke different languages, we can readily see why God gave the gift of tongues at Pentecost.’[13]

 

It is true that the majority of the preachers as well as laymen in the Pentecostal movement teach and believe that there is a difference between spiking in tongues “as the Spirit gives utterance” and the “gift of tongues”. They insist that speaking in tongues is the “initial, physical evidence: of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is gratifying to know that there are some outstanding preachers and hundreds of laymen in the Pentecostal movement who sincerely believe that one may receive a Scriptural baptism of the Holy Spirit and never speak in tongues. The following extract is from the writings of the nationally known evangelist, Rev. F. F. Bosworth. He writes:

 

After eleven years in the work on Pentecostal lines (during which time it has been my privilege to see thousands receive the precious Baptism in the Holy Spirit), I am certain that many who receive the most powerful Baptism for service do not receive the manifestation of speaking in tongues. And I am just as certain that many who seemingly speak in tongues are not, nor ever have been Baptized in the Spirit. Although I have in the past very tenaciously contended for it, as many of the brethren still do, I am certain that it is entirely wrong and un-Scriptural to teach that the miraculous speaking in tongues as on the Day of Pentecost was not the gift of tongues God set in the Church, and which is so often mentioned in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Not only is there not a solitary passage of Scripture upon which to base this doctrine, but, on the other hand, the Scriptures flatly deny it. That there is no Scripture for this distinction between speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance at Jerusalem, and the gift of tongues at Corinth, is being seen and admitted by many Bible students and teachers in the Pentecostal movement, in fact, some in the movement have never believed the distinction was Scriptural.[14]

 

Harold Horton, one of the leading Pentecostal preachers in England, has implied in his book that some Pentecostal preachers who used to advocate speaking in tongues as the “initial, physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit have ceased preaching this false doctrine. He writes: 

 

But what have we to say of some among us in Pentecost who, after glorious years of enjoyment of heaven’s outpouring, have joined the hue-and-cry against tongues and other supernatural manifestations we see in our midst! Can we believe our ears when we are told there are presbyters among us who are asking the same mocking questions of their fellow-presbyters: ‘What is the use of the gibberish of tongues in our meetings?’ Who are these?[15]

 

I shall add another paragraph from the pen of Mr. McCrossan: “The use of the Imperfect tense in every single instance when the ‘speaking with tongues’ is mentioned [Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6] is absolute proof that in each case this was a gift of tongues following the baptism, something to be continued and repeated again and again in the days yet to come. To any one really versed in the rules of Greek grammar this is so evident that there is absolutely no room for doubt on this question.”[16]

1. The speaking in tongues that was manifested on the day of Pentecost was given primarily as a sign for the unbelievers. 2. According to 1 Corinthians 14:22, the only manifestation of tongues that God ever intended to be as a sign for unbelievers is the “gift of tongues”. 3. Therefore, the speaking in tongues that was manifested on the day of Pentecost, given primarily as a sign for the unbelievers, was the “gift of tongues.”



[1] Byrum,  op. cit., p. 482.

[2] Statement by Robert C. Cunningham.

[3] Carl Brumback,  What Meaneth This,  p. 261.

[4] Brumback,  op. cit.,  p. 269.

[5] Jonathan D. Bright,  The Baptism of the Holy Ghost,  p. 25.

[6] Brumback,  op. cit.,  p. 187.

[7] Gee,  op. cit.,  p. 3.

[8] F. F. Bosworth,  Do All Speak with Tongues,  p. 8.

[9] T. B. Barratt,  In the Days of the Latter Rain,  pp. 152–3.

[10] Brmback,  op. cit.,  p. 275.

[11] A. M. Hills,  Holiness and Power,  pp. 316–7.

[12] Robert C. Dalton,  Tongues Like as of Fire,  p. 92.

[13] George Jeffreys,  Pentecostal Rays,  pp. 221–2.

[14] Bosworth,  op. cit.,  p. 5.

[15] Harold Horton,  What Is the Good of Speaking with Tongues?,  p. 5.

[16] McCrossan,  op. cit.,  p. 10.