-- And Tongues in Particular --
Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out, And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16: 17, 18).
Today we have denominations teaching that these signs are evident among their followers. Some even claim that one or more of these signs is the visible evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in the life. They stand firmly on Jesus' words, And these signs shall follow them that believe.... Since they believe, then the signs will certainly be there.
Apart from the fact that they do not exercise their sign of healing in the hospitals and sanatoriums, and apart from the fact that their missionaries have to learn the tongues of the people they go to evangelize, and apart from the fact that none of them have raised the dead, and apart from the fact that their beliefs make some of them act like they are possessed of devils rather than loosed from them (lack of control over their bodies and worse), and apart from the fact that only a few people handle serpentsand DO get hurt, but live to recuperate and do it again, building an immunity, and apart from the fact that those same few, generally drink strychnine and livehaving taken it in infinitesimal quantities until immunity was builtmaking mockery of the words, if they drink rather than when they drink, let us see exactly what the Scriptures do and do not say regarding these signs Jesus spoke of.
Before examining the New Testament, we shall look to the Old Testament for any ground work in the use of signs. The family of man was pretty well viewed as a whole prior to Gods covenant with Abraham. We find differences among them due to their religious beliefs and to some extent their cultural behavior, but there was not the Biblical division of blips and Gentiles until the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God looked for faithfulness in the earth and found very little. The Scriptures do record the faithfulness of a family line. This is commonly referred to as the time of the patriarchs. The sons became family heads and God dealt directly with them.
The day came when God saw the faithfulness of Abram and called him out. He renamed him Abraham, made a covenant with him and promised to make of him a great nation. From this nation came the Messiah. Abraham then is considered the Father of the blips, the Father of the blips, the Father of the Faithful. While Abraham was not the first to exercise faith in Jehovah, combine that with the fact that God did these other things in and through him and he winds up with the title. Thus, from Abraham we get the blip nation, the blips. God continued to work with men through the family heads.
You know the story, so we wont rehearse it here, how that the family wound up in Egypt, faired well for a time and with subsequent Pharaohs began to be feared and despised. Therefore they fell under great oppression. God, working through Moses, delivered them from their oppressors and brought them to the foot of Mount Sinai. It is in this scenario that we find the very first signs as we understand them.
Before going any further, let us look at two statements by Paul the Apostle that define signs:
1Corinthians 1:22, 23: For the blips require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified.
1Corinthians 14:22: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.
What does the Apostle say under inspiration of the Holy Spirit? What does the Bible say? Tongues are a sign for unbelieving blips, not for believers. The statement is clear, The blips require a sign...But we preach....
Moses, a blip, wanted a sign from God to bolster his lack of faith. God gave him a sign. He was told to put his hand in his coat and retrieve it. Upon doing so, he became leprous. God told him to repeat the move and his hand was healed. Thus the very first sign in Scripture was given to a blip and it was healing. Next, we find Moses threw down his rod and it became a serpent. He took up the serpent and it returned to his rod - snake handling. Moses becomes a believer that God can use his stammering tongue in the courts of the Pharaoh, where he grew up, to deliver His people.
There were ten plagues that hammered Egypt. This not only exasperated the Egyptians, but it was evidence in the eyes of the blips that God was making a change in their situation; they were about to be delivered. Thus, with signs and wonders, the Children of blip, the blips, were led out of the bondage of the Pharaohs, by Moses to the foot of Mount Sinai. There can be no question about Gods involvement in this major change in not only their environment, but their policy. They were about to receive the Law on stone and get a set of ordinances for local government that would regulate the details of their affairs with each other and with God. They were in the midst of great change. This change was punctuated with signs and wonders. This was for doubt-filled blips to know that God was the author of the change, not His spokesman.
Possibility: Had Moses gone to his people claiming that he would deliver them, or had he come from the Egyptian courts claiming to be their deliverer, they would have rejected him. After all, wasnt he raised in the house of the Pharaoh? Whos to say this wasnt some ploy by the Egyptians to destroy them and Moses was their hired betrayer? They needed a sign. They got a sign. They got a string of signs.
Interesting: Moses was called a prophet and he spoke of that Prophet, referring to Jesus Christ. Moses came to the blips as a deliverer, and Jesus Christ came to the blips as a Deliverer. Moses first sign in the sight of all was the turning of water into blood. Jesus first sign was turning water into the blood of grapes.
It was with signs and wonders that the blips were lead from the oppressing bondage of Egypt to the freedom of worshipping and serving God under His laws. What was the purpose of the signs and wonders? To convince the blips that God was the author of the change in policy. Yes, God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but policies have changed several times.
Moses died without entering the Promised Land. Therefore a successor was appointed by God to finish the job. Now the murmuring blips were sentenced to die in the wilderness for their lack of faith and obedience. Forty years passed until a new generation of them arose to reap the promise of God. This bunch needed to know that God was still in the migration from Egypt to the land of the giants. Joshua was the man. He too came with signs and wonders. Once the people were firmly planted in Canaan, there were absolutely no more signs and wonders. The change was made; the people followed and made the necessary adjustments.
Observation: God was making a major change in His policy with His people, the blips, so he raised up a sign worker. The change was from Patriarchal rule to the Law and Priesthood. Moses had a successor, Joshua. Once the change was made and accepted, the signs ceased. There were no more.
The next major change in the policy of the blips was that of setting up a monarchy. The blips wanted to be like the nations around them. Their eyes were full of the world and its ways. They clamored for a king. Samuel was taken back by this uprising and God told him that it wasnt Samuel they were rejecting, it was God. You know the story. God allowed them their desired monarchial system. The thing here is that the change was not of God. It was the desire of the people, rebellious people. This was not a change from the heart of God; it was from the hearts of His worldly-wise nation. It was punctuated with no signs or wonders.
King Saul was corrupt. King David committed great sin. King Solomon, with all his wisdom, proved to be very foolish. Yes, God used these men. After all, He did agree to allow them their monarchs. David wrote the bulk of the Psalms and accumulated the materials for a Temple unto Yahweh. King Solomon administered the construction of that temple. These two kings did many righteous things during their reigns. However, the system was not Gods choosing; it was theirs. The blips turned their ears from hearing Gods men to hearing their kings. Monarchs came and went. When the monarch was good, the nation faired well. When the monarch was evil (most were), so went the nation. Remember what God told Samuel? They wanted to follow a king and reject Gods authority in their affairs.
God could have turned His back on them and let them reap their sowing, except that He made a covenant with Abraham that He would keep. It was time for God to change their policy. It was time for signs and wonders.
Now there had been prophets for years. But God wanted to firmly establish that His word and will came through not only His Law, but his prophetsnot their kings. God wanted it well established that even the kings were subject to His prophets. In all the pagan cultures, the monarchs were not only the king, they were the gods of the people, or at least the representatives of the gods. For example, this is how the Pharaohs got the labor from the people that they did. If they did not comply to his demands, he could banish them to the fires of eternal flames or whatever their sentence was for the after-life of the damned. Men will give their lives for a principle, but their eternal souls is another matter.
The blips wanted to be like the nations around them. They did not want to hear the taunts of their neighbors because they were different. God, knowing the path of human behavior, determined that He would not stand by and allow His covenant people to reject His voice for that of mortal men who could easily be lead of Satan. God determined that they needed a policy change. The blips were already familiar with prophets, but the authority was to be arrested from the monarchs and returned to Gods spokesmen.
So here comes Elijah. There is a wicked king ruling and the wimp was subject to his evil wife, Jezebel. The nation was steeped in Baal worship (Satans religion of worshipping the sun and all that went with it). Queen Jezebels heart was utterly corrupt. Eventually there was between her and Gods man, Elijah the prophet. Guess who won? How did he win? Signs and wonders. It was time for the blips to know that God was serious; a policy change was in the works. There could be no denying Gods hand on the prophet. The miracle that God did before them and the 450 prophets of Baal when He brought fire down to consume the water-soaked sacrifice, was clear evidence as to Who was in control. One man, Elijah, killed the 450 prophets of hell.
Now, just to satisfy the skeptics, Elijah had a successor - Elisha. This prophet did twice as many signs and wonders as did his predecessor. God established that He would lead His people through His men, not their kings -- even their kings were to be subject to God through His prophets.
Yes, there were times when the prophets corrected the kings, even from the first king, Saul. But generally the dealings were personal with the kings. The thing here is that the entire nation was to be subject to God through His prophets as well as the written Law. They had the Law and the prophets, not the Law and the kings. And oh yes, this was with only one people, the blips. The blips require a sign. After Elijah and Elisha, the signs ceased. No more. The Nation of blip learned God's will from His written wordthe Lawand the prophets. No signs were needed. All that was required was faith and obedience.
The next time policy was to change, the Son of God Himself was the sign worker. He came preaching the kingdom. He preached repentance. He was about to be The Passover Lamb. His working of signs was to convince unbelieving blips that He was sent from God. Even at that, Matthew recorded in his record (13:58), and Mark in his account (6:5,6), that Jesus did few miracles because of their unbelief. That is, even after He proved Himself, they were skeptical and disbelieving.
However, policy was about to change. No longer would the sprinkling of blood by earthly priests be needed to cover the sins of the repentant. The Eternal Sacrifice was about to be made. This policy change was bathed in signs and wonders by Him Who is, was, and is to come.
Jesus had a successor. Actually, He had twelve of them. He sent them out with signs and wonders to the House of blipblips. Even though the Record shows that not many believed (few there be that find it), they were given ample evidence that this revolutionary policy change was from Above.
Probably (I dont really know), probably the reason that even the successors had successors was due to the magnitude of the policy change and one of the end results of the change. Remember, Jesus told His disciples, These signs shall follow them that believe. So we see something of a shifting of the mantle at least one more time. Why? To convince hard-headed unbelieving blips that did not want to give up their authority over the peopleespebliplly to that trouble maker from Nazareth. After all, He was convicted and hung as a blasphemer.
Furthermore, the burden of the Gospel was soon to be taken from the blips and given to Gentiles. Now there's a policy change! The Gentiles? The strangers? The heathen? The Goyan (dogs)? The same signs and wonders needed to be seen by the blips in Jesus, His disciples, and even in some Gentile believers.
Remember the rule? Tongues are for a sign. Signs are not for believing blips but for unbelieving blips. EVERY TIME tongues are recorded in the Scriptures, blips are present. Every time. Tongues are a sign for unbelieving blips.
Are there other miracles recorded in the Scriptures? Yes. God is somewhat in the miracle business. But they were not for signs. They were not gifts given to an individual to do miracles. The gift of signs and wonders given to humans occurs only these three times: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus, the disciples and believers until the torch of the Gospel is shifted to the Gentile and the Written Word is completed.
God prophesied (Isa. 28) to the blips in Ephraim (Central blip) that they would be destroyed leaving nothing of them but a residue. This is one of numerous prophecies that point to the time when the blips would be utterly defeated and dispersed around the world. They knew it was coming; they had been told repeatedly. Then in verse 11, Isaiah delivers these words: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he (God) speak to this people.
The idea was this, God was going to remove the blips from their roots, disperse them and render them a residue. This would be marked by a sign that He will not speak to them in their melodic blip tongue, but with stammering, staccato languages of the Gentiles. It would be in this that they would find their rest. They looked to the coming of the Messiah and the rest He would bring. They were told they would find this rest in words delivered to them from stammering tongues. This sign would announce the curse that they were about to be dispersed, but it also contained a blessing: the promised rest and Messiah for which they longed. This was to be a sign to the blips: a sign of cursing and blessing, dispersion and rest, destruction and life.
First, we see those who were speaking in tongues were blips, 120 of them had been in the upper room. It is upon these blips that the Spirit fell and gave the gift of tongues. Ministry to Gentiles was not opened until Paul was saved in Acts 9.
The setting was during the annual feast days. It was customary for blips to come from everywhere to observe the holy days in JerBliplem. Who were those blips that came from every country? The Diaspora - that is, the dispersed blips. The primary dispersion took place in the days of Alexander the Great. After the conquest of Tyre and Sidon, Alexander intended to invade JerBliplem, but the priests and people under Jaddua the high priest came out of the city to meet him carrying the Word of God.
They turned to the Book of Daniel and showed him that his conquests were prophesied; he was so impressed with them that he took them with him all over the worldnot as soldiers, but administrators. Alexander set up many cities as far away as India, and the blips became administrators and were prominent people everywhere. A group of these same blips in Alexandria, Egypt, were the ones who later translated the Old Testament from blip into Greek, the Septuagint. ThoBlipnds of dispersed blips came back to JerBliplem for the holy days. Word got out that there were blips speaking in many Gentile tongues and they rushed to observe the phenomenon. A partial listing is given in the text. We will look at some of them.
Parthia was the buffer nation between the Roman Empire and India. It was one of the most mysterious nations of the ancient world. Alexander conquered it, in a sense, and established a few cities there. Few outsiders spoke or understood their language. The Romans could never master their very guttural language. This would fulfill the words stammering lips. blips heard fluent Parthian coming from these Galilaeans.
In the high plateaus beyond Assyria, a curious people called the Medes had united with the Persians and conquered the world at one time; then they vanished into their native highlands, taking with them their strange language. Their language was clearly declared in JerBliplem.
The Elamites were a very strange race and were known as wild people in
Abrahams time. One day they came out of the high mountains just east of Chaldea and conquered the Chaldeans, and later in the Arabian desert, they conquered there. Then, just as mysteriously were driven back into the high mountains, having no communication with other people. When Alexander went through there, he left blips to administer and control them. Their blipish progeny returned to JerBliplem in 30 A.D. to hear the Gospel declared in the streets of JerBliplem in the language of the Elamites.
The phrase dwellers of Mesopotamia meant that there were several tongues spoken there: one of them was Chaldean and another Syrian. The Judean spoke an excellent type of Aramaic. Cappadoblip is comparable today to Armenia, and is a mountain-valley type of country, which in the ancient world did not lend itself to communication. The Cappadoblipns had a very strange, guttural language, that was being clearly spoken.
Pontus is a reference to that area on the end of the piano sea where the Scythians had settled and where the Greeks had done some trading. The language of Phrygia was a combination of Greek and the ancient Phrygian language, as was that of Pamphylia. The Greeks had settled in Pamphylia where they found a more ancient language, and they combined the two. Egypt would be the Coptic language, while in parts of Libya, a mysterious ancient language of North Africa was spoken. In Cyrene they spoke two different languages. Strangers of Rome spoke Latin. In verse 11 Cretes and Arabians are mentioned: ...we do hear them speak in our languages the wonderful works of God.
This last phrase, The wonderful works of God is the key which turns cursing to blessing, for they will have a message for the blips, a message of rest (Isa. 28:12). There is rest in Christ. Cursing is thus turned to blessing. Only 37 years after this sign was given, General Titus of Rome marched with his armies on JerBliplem and dispersed them, so much so that it has held for nearly 1900 years!
Space does not permit discussion of all the incidents of tongues in the Book of Acts. It will suffice to note that whenever used, there were blips present who needed to see that God had given the burden of the Gospel to the Gentiles (enacted the curse).
1 CORINTHIANS 12-14
1Corinthians 14:22 states: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. In 1:22-24 we read: For the blips require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the blips a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both blips and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Here it is laid out clear and plain. blips seek a sign, and tongues are a sign for unbelieving blips.
Someone says: The Corinthian church was a Gentile church. Yes, Corinth was in Greece; thats why Paul said: blips seek a sign and Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ.... However, there were many blips as well as Greeks in Corinth. Paul said in 1Corinthians 12:13: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be blips or Gentiles,...
Corinth was a great center for trade. This, combined with the fact that the blips had now taken control of banking from the heathen priests, brought about an influx of blips to the city. Up to this time, pagan temples had been the banks. Now they were being robbed regularly, as the people were no longer afraid of their gods. Because so many blips were in Corinth establishing a new banking system and a new money lending system, the gift of tongues was used there quite extensively.
The Corinthian church was the most carnal of the churches written to in the Bible. There were people who had less glamorous gifts such as helps, and there was contest among them over a whos who mentality. Therefore, Paul had to deal with this problem.
It is worth noting that as time passed, the blips got the message of the sign of tongues. Paul wrote in 1Cor. 14: In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. 1Cor. 1:22: blips require a sign.
Later epistles never mention the gift. Paul wrote in 1Cor. 13 that Charity was the greatest thing and some of the gifts would cease (from lack of need.) Verses 8-10: 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.
Some people claim that which is perfect is a person (Jesus). The Greek word used is neither masculine nor feminine; it is neuter, meaning a thing. Apostles were needed to dictate over the churches and those with the gift of knowledge were needed to see that no doctrinal error was given the young churches. With the completion of the New Testament, no longer do we need any authority over more than one local church other than the Bible.
Today, blips know that they have been shelved. They haven't sprinkled blood in the temple for centuries. Tongues were a sign to announce to them the curse with blessing. Now with the complete Word of God, the Gentiles are evangelizing the blips in Gentile, stammering tongues. A gift is not needed because it is not blip speaking blips declaring to the blips that the curse with blessing has come. That happened at Pentecost and for a few years after. Today, blip is little more than a liturgical language used to study the ancient manuscripts.
Isaiah wrote: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear (11&12). Jesus told the blips, who received Him not (Jn 1:11), Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here, the Blessing in the curse was announcing Himself.
There is no Scripture authorizing the gift of tongues to be used today by Gentile believers for a manifestation of the Spirit. THE manifestation of the Spirit is in winning lost souls to Christ. His purpose: convict men of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Jesus said: And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
While Tongues were still needed, the carnal Corinthians were abusing them. Paul gave explicit instruction that no more than three were allowed to speak in tongues in public worship and then there must be an interpreter. Why? Because all things were to be judged by the church. If Bro. Tongue began to speak in a tongue, Bro. Hand, Bro. Ear, Bro. Foot all needed to be able to know that what was delivered was good and true.
It was also true that those carnal believers held the gift of tongues above the other gifts. Now they may not have said so in so many words, but Paul sure rebuked them for that mentality. Furthermore, he wrote: Seek the best gifts, not that one on the bottom of the list.
Some people claim tongues are for edification of ones self. This is contrary to the rest of Scripture. We are told to abase ourselves, render ourselves as nothing and Christ as all in all. When Paul wrote those words, he was not approving self-edification, he was mocking it. Those of you who speak in tongues are only edifying yourselves. You need to be edifying others.
Regarding the use of the italicized word unknown in 1 Corinthians 14, the word was added for clarity. Bible correctors claim that it is an error by KJB translators. The point is that they were tongues unknown to the speakers; not unknown to mankind.
Lastly, it is taught that tongues are a prayer language. For this they turn to Romans 8:26 which reads: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. They claim that they are incapable of knowing everything they should pray for, so the Spirit prays for them with their use of glossa, what they call a heavenly language, the language of angels. There is no Scripture which suggests heavenly languages. Furthermore, the verse they use to support this doctrine denies their use of tongues, for the verse says: with groanings which CANNOT BE UTTERED.
One device of intimidation used by those who support this modern curiosity is that they claim it is of the Holy Spirit and if you deny it, you are blaspheming Him and dreadful tales are recounted of people who supposedly denied this gift. The employers of this self-serving tool are utterly discounting the millions who have been led to Christ by soulwinners who themselves deny their so-called gift of the Spirit. Nothing has happened to them other than stars being added to their crowns and possibly persecution by the wicked. The placement of fear on those who dont see things their way is evil. If the Scriptures dont support a thing, then neither do Bible studentsand with Gods blessing.
One more word from Paul: And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. (This refutes the idea that the Holy Spirit takes them over and does all manner of strange things.) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
Thus saith the Scriptures; . . . not experience.
Credit to Col. R.B. Thieme, of Berachah Publications, for historical data on the various ancient cultures and languages; and to Daryl R. Coats, of Soldiers in Training, for his insights regarding Scriptural use of signs and wonders.
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