“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (I Cor. 12:8-11). There were nine of these spiritual gifts that were in use in the early church. There is so much interest in tongues that we will discuss when tongues (as a miraculous gift) ceased, but at the same time so did all nine of these spiritual gifts cease. The Holy Spirit is the author of order (I Cor. 14:40). For many their claim of tongues speaking is not in order which makes their claims suspicious. It should be remembered that there is a difference between the experiences of the apostles and the teachings of the apostles. They had power and wisdom that others did not have, and did things that we are not permitted to do. With this in mind we will be able to understand more about tongue speaking. There were 8 writers of the New Testament; there were 21 books or letters written to congregations, individuals, or groups of churches. Paul wrote 13 or 14 of these letters. There are 27 churches mentioned by name in the New Testament. Paul is the only writer who discussed the gift of tongue speaking. He wrote not a word on the subject of tongues to the church at Rome, Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica, Philippi, or the churches of Galatia. Neither did he mention the speaking of tongues in his general epistles. John, who wrote five books of the New Testament, does not mention the subject of tongue speaking. Even Peter, the spokesman on the day of Pentecost, who spoke in tongues, did not mention the subject in writing his two letters. It is a strange omission indeed if tongue speaking is an essential part of the Christian experience or if it was to be perpetuated in the church of the Lord’s people. Paul does discuss the matter of speaking in tongues but discusses it to only one church – Corinth. Luke, the writer of Acts, mentions the speaking with tongues as a historical fact but does not go into a discussion of it. In Mark’s account the promise is given and tongue speaking is listed as one of the 5 signs that would follow the apostles to confirm the word that they preached (Mark 16:17-20). The 5 things are casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, taking up serpents, drinking deadly poison and not be hurt, and laying hands on the sick to recover them. There are five groups of passages in the New Testament with reference to “tongues” which we will notice in order. 1. Acts 2:4, 6, 11. Other tongues are referred to and they are called languages (vs. 6). The purpose was to prove the gospel of Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy. This was the beginning of the gospel on Pentecost day. 2. Acts 10:46; 11:15-17. Here Peter said it was the same gift that had been bestowed on the apostles in the beginning. Peter had carried 6 Jewish brethren with him to confirm what was happening. It is significant that “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10: 46, 47). The tongue speaking on this occasion proved to the Jews that the Gentiles had a right to the blessings of the gospel. 3. Acts 19:6. Here the 12 at Ephesus received tongues and the gift of prophecy. It was to enable them to reveal the divine gospel. 4. I Corinthians 12:1-10, 30. The 9 gifts of the Spirit are here listed of which tongues was one. In verses 28-31 the divine writer said, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show me unto you a more excellent way.” Here it is denied that tongue speaking was ever universal in the church. It was a special gift to a limited number. And then he set about to point out a more excellent way which is discussed in chapter 13. The way of faith, hope and love the greatest being love is the more excellent way. 5. I Corinthians 14:2, 26-32. Here the use of the gift was limited to an interpreter present and all things were to be done decently and in order (I Cor. 14:33, 40). Miraculous tongue speaking ceased when the perfect revelation was completed. I Cor. 13:8-10 states: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” In James 1:25 the word is called “the perfect law of liberty”. The perfect to come is the completed Gospel. When the gospel was fully given then miraculous tongue speaking ceased. This in Eph. 4:13 is called coming to the unity of the faith. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness in the New Testament (2 Peter 1:3, 4). We are to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Tongue speaking could only be transmitted by the laying on of the hands of an apostle (Acts 19:6). All the apostles died in the first century so we have no way to obtain it today. People claiming it now do not speak in languages they have not studied. Neither do they give us any inspired messages. The gospel has been fully given. It is left for us to give the more earnest heed to the things revealed in the New Testament (Hebrews 2:1). Notice Hebrews 2:3,4 - “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” The signs and wonders refer to such thing as miraculous tongue speaking. We do not have the signs any longer. We do have the message the signs confirmed. It is up to us to follow the completed New Testament to be saved. All can read and understand what was once the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:3, 4)
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