By William C. Sexton
Recently in our Bible Study in Altus, at my mother’s house, we had a good discussion about speaking in tongues, etc. Although time ran out before we exhausted the topic (in fact many hours could be spent on the topic, in a profitable fashion), we did run over, keeping the study going longer that we like to, but it was hard to find a place to stop. Needless to say, we didn’t all agree on the topic. But in time with serious study, Bible students should be united on what the Bible says about this matter, as well as on all other Bible subjects.
I believe this is an area in which a number of sincere people differ a great deal, not so much over what the Bible actually says, but often over “experiences” people say they have had. Of course I don’t judge the “experiences” or fully explain them. At times it seems clear to me that one can explain what happened in terms of psychological forces and explanations based on expectations, etc., all of which play a part. We need to study with love and respect for each other. I believe we need to pay close attention to what John, the inspired apostle of God, says about the things Jesus did:
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).
This, shows the real purpose of miracles! If one comes to the New Testament with an open mind, looking carefully at what it says, the many miracles done in the first four gospels show plainly that they were to this end: To establish and support his claims that he was the Son of God and came with the Father’s message to show how man could be saved.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that the people were without excuse because Jesus had demonstrated that his claims were true by the miracles, signs and wonders that he did in their midst. That should have caused them to accept him. But although previously they had rejected him,they still could turn to him and be saved by him. We need to be convinced of that fact! Look carefully at the claims made by Peter: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22).
You see the reasoning here! If one will think, he can clearly see that they did not have the New Testament Scriptures as we have them. When someone came into their midst preaching or teaching, they needed proof that he was from God. The miracles provided that proof.
So, speaking in tongues enabled one who had never studied the language to speak so the people could understand. It served two purposes: (1) It enabled them to communicate the message so the hearers could understand; (2) It provided proof that they were from God. Look at the amazement on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:7-8). Notice, also, that the “tongues” were languages (their “own tongue” wherein they “were born”). I find a perception among many people, that the “tongues” were not languages to be understood, but some-thing that no one understands that it takes another Spirit filled person to “interpret.” That concept, I believe, is contrary to Bible teachings and is hurtful.
I wonder if modem tongue speaking is not one of the “lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9) used by Satan to deceive the minds and turn away the hearts of them who otherwise would come to accept the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:9-12). What more powerful weapon could Satan use than one of this nature, should he choose to? The person who has this kind of “experience” is one of the most difficult to persuade to accept what the Bible says, because they believe their experience validates their claim, in their own mind!
Beloved, I can’t and won’t try to explain every experience one has. Please don’t allow any experience not based on Scripture to cause you to reject Christ’s message. He came to save you and me!
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 14
December 21, 1995