Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unless you speak in tongues you do not have the Holy Spirit

“The simpleton believes every word he hears, but the prudent man looks and considers well where he is going.” (Proverbs 14:15 Amplified Bible)

If it is true the Holy Scriptures are able to make us, the believer, perfect and furnished unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:17), then it is to the Bible and the Bible alone we need to look to answer the question, “Unless you speak in tongues you do not have the Holy Spirit.” Experiences we may have, experiences we hear from others, experiences we witness, should be tested against and by the Word of the living God.

Two texts of Scripture, Acts 2:4, 10:44-46, do point to events in which speaking in tongues did accompany the activity of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:4 – The Apostles are filled by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in other known languages so that the salvation message could be understood by others.

Acts 10:44-47 – Another event to demonstrate to the Jewish believers that the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon even the Gentile believers. Later in Acts 15:7-11, Peter points to this event as proof of Gentiles’ salvation.

Both passages are in accord with the Isaiah 28:11 prophecy, the purpose of tongues, which Paul quotes in I Corinthians 14:21,22, that tongues are for sign.

“In the Law it is written: "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.” (1 Corinthians 14:20-22 New International Version)

Tongues therefore were “…a sign to unbelievers, who are moved when they hear the gospel spoken in their tongue by men who have never learned it and do not understand it.” (See People’s New Testament Commentary: I Corinthians 14:20-22.)

The Apostle Paul outlines in Ephesians 1:13 that there is no period of time after receiving Christ that the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit but rather a Scriptural order that occurs at salvation: 1) Included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; 2) Having believed; 3) You were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

When a man or woman is brought to faith in Christ, he or she is sealed in Christ with the promised Holy Spirit.

Paul, speaking to believers, says those in Christ are not under the control of the sinful flesh but by the Holy Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in us. If, he goes on, anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ (here equating the Spirit of God with the Spirit of Christ) then he does not belong to Christ. (See Romans 8:9-11)

Redemption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are linked as one in the same in Ephesians 4:30 with the outcome of this redemption and indwelling being the putting off of bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, every form of malice. And, putting on kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Notice that these moral attributes (fruit of the Spirit) and not speaking in tongues are the outcome of Redemption and the Spirit’s Indwelling.

This error, “Unless you speak in tongues you do not have the Holy Spirit,” began when the “Holiness Movement” originated their “Second Work of Grace” (or Second Definite Work of Grace) doctrine. With many subsequent variations, the theology went like this:

Though Christ was sufficient for salvation, you will need the baptism of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by the speaking in tongues, to have the “full gospel.” In other words, what Christ did at the Cross of Calvary was not sufficient enough requiring something “more,” which they called “the baptism of the Spirit.” Depending on which version you read, it was also called “the Spirit’s infilling.” Regardless of what you called it, “the baptism or infilling of the Spirit,” the doctrine taught that sometime after you received Christ, you had to seek this “second work of Grace” evidenced by the speaking in tongues.

If the gift of tongues, when it appeared in the first century, was a sign of judgment to the unbelieving Jewish nation as predicted in Isaiah 28:11, then when that nation ended (70 A.D.), the speaking in tongues would have ended. Its purpose would be done with. Therefore, tongues, the actual Biblical gift, and its association with the filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) would not be seen today.

And, is it not another gospel to say that what Christ did on the Cross was not quite enough, that there is something more to seek, to be had, to want? To say there is a “second work of Grace” is essentially saying we are not complete in Christ to which the Bible clearly responds we are in Christ complete. (Col. 2:10)

There are even more grave issues about the modern tongues movement that one needs to consider.

"Dr. John Kildahl, a psychotherapist, conducted a ten-year, in-depth study of modern day tongue-speaking. The importance of the leader was well illustrated by the fact that the style of glossolalia adapted by the group bore a close resemblance to the way in which the leader spoke. A linguist engaged in glossolalia research found that prominent visiting speakers affected whole groups of glossolalists. Although no two tongue-speakers sounded exactly alike, if the prominent leader spoke in a kind of Old Testament Hebraic style, those who were taught by him also spoke in this manner. If the leader of the group evidenced Spanish diction and mannerism, his followers also developed that style. It is not uncommon for linguists to be able to tell which prominent itinerant glossolalist has introduced a congregation to tongue-speaking. Relatively few men and women travel the tongue-speaking circuit. The glossolalist styles of Bennett, Bredesen, Christenson, du Plessis, Mjorud, and Stone are distinctive enough to be identifiable by observant linguists. Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues, (Harper & Row) 1972, pg. 53." (SOURCE)

Testing what is being passed off as tongues speaking needs to happen. They, the tongues proponents, would have us accept their tongues experience as "gospel" based solely on their word.

"Listen to the experiences of Dr. Kildahl: We attended many meetings where glossolalia both occurred and was interpreted and noted that the interpretations were usually of a very general nature. After a segment of tongue-speech, an interpreter commonly offered the explanation that the speaker had been thanking and praising God for many blessings. Another frequent theme was that the speaker was asking for strength and guidance for himself and for others. However, perhaps a third of the time, the interpreter offered specific interpretations of what glossolalists said. More rarely, an interpreter "translated" phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence. In order to investigate the accuracy of these interpretations, we undertook to play a taped example of tongue-speech privately for several different interpreters of tongues. In no instance was there any similarity in the several interpretations. The following typifies our results: one interpreter said the tongue-speaker was praying for health of his children; another the same tongue-speech was an expression of gratitude to God for a recently successful church fund-raising effort. When confronted with the disparity between their interpretations, the interpreters offered the explanation that God gave to one person one interpretation of speech and to another person another interpretation. They showed no defensiveness about being cross-examined and generously upheld alternative interpretations as equally valid." (Source)

If we take it all at face value that what we see and hear in tongue's meetings, then how do we know for sure that what just took place is the supernatural? There has to be some way of framing it all in some sort of testable hypotheses. Just because someone pops up and demonstrates an Academy Award worth "interpretation" performance, means nothing. If it really is the Biblical gift of tongues, then the tongues with the so-called interpretation, if recorded, should prove to be a real foreign language. And, if it is, how do we know that the tongue speaker really did not previously know that language?

"We know of a man who was raised in Africa, the son of missionary parents, who decided -- rather cynically perhaps -- to test the interpretation of tongues. At the appropriate moment he rose and spoke the Lord's Prayer in the African dialect he had learned in his youth. When he sat down, an interpreter of tongues at once offered the meaning of what he said. He interpreted it as a message about the imminent second coming of Christ. John Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues, (Harper & Row) 1972, pages 62- 63. The Bible is clear in its warning to Christians concerning the many false teachers in the world. Many will be eternally lost who thought they had prophesied, cast out demons, and done many mighty works (i.e., tongue-speaking, etc.) in the name of Jesus (Matt. 7:22-23)." (Source)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In God’s Image

Unlike some theological ideas and concepts which are implied strongly in Scripture but not explicitly mentioned, like The Trinity, the theological answer to the question, "What is man," is indeed explicitly spelled out in Holy Scripture. In Genesis 1:26, God said, "…Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (NIV)

What it does not mean to be created in the image or likeness of God is that we, His creation, look like God. God does not have a material body. What is not in mind here when discussing man being created in the image of God is a "physical likeness." God does not have a fleshly body after which man was made. The Bible teaches that God is a spirit (John 4:24). What it does mean to be created in God's image is that man is the visible expression on Earth of God's invisible nature. Man is created in the likeness of God's mentality, morality, and sociability.


Man can make deductions and, from those deductions, make a decision. The ability to make a judgment from his intellect and then choose is a mirror image of God's mental processes of intelligence and volition. Each time a member of the human race creates a mechanism, writes a college term paper, exercises creativity artistically, balances his or her checkbook, he or she is exercising his or her Imago Dei.


Man received from his creator perfect righteousness (see Eph. 4:24) and, because of The Fall, is lost but restored in Christ in the New Creation. When a man or woman, whether in Christ or unredeemed, obeys a law, opposes evil, praises and practices good behavior, accepts the consequence for his or her bad behavior, he or she is showing a remnant of his creature-Creator relationship.


Another way in which mankind expresses his creature-Creator likeness is in wanting to have social associations with other humans. Man was made by God to have companionships, comradeships, and acquaintances with one another. Each time someone gets married, embraces someone, takes care of children, gathers with the Saints of God, that is an expression of his or her creature-Creator relationship.

God provided mankind, in the person of our first parents Adam and Eve, with a mind and the power of choice to be able to choose between good and evil. Mankind had the "light of reason" (John Calvin) as the means to make the choices to do what is right.

"Man in his first condition excelled in these pre-eminent endowments, so that his reason, understanding, prudence, and judgment not only sufficed for the direction of his earthly life, but by them men mounted up even to God and eternal bliss. Then was choice added, to direct the appetites and control all the organic motions, and thus make the will completely amenable to the guidance of the reason." (John Calvin, Institutes I. XV. 8)

Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden marred, tainted, and stained the Image in which they were made. This ruination of God's image has been passed on to all their subsequent offspring and is the source of our ruination today. We murder God's image bearers in our society and that is a reflection of what happened in the Garden when Adam chose to sin against God, our Creator. In fact, all one has to do is read history, even the history of the church, to see expressions of how marred the image of God is in mankind. And, though still bearing some remnant of God's image (James 3:9), we still curse our fellow image bearers.

The hope we have in the testimony of Holy Scripture is that in Christ, in His redemptive work, when man is brought to faith and repentance in Christ, God begins to make new that original image of God within us. In Christ, as new creations, we are commanded, "...and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph. 4:24 ESV).


Far too often Christians are left in the Theological Stratosphere to ponder the things of the Doctrinal Milky Way without anyone showing them practical applications to profound Theological Concepts found in Scripture. Our Imago Dei is one such profound theological concept with profound applications.

An immediate practical application of Imago Dei is the mandate not to murder or hate our fellow image bearers of the Divine. Nor should we ignore the morality in our relationship with our fellow image bearers. The goodness or badness of our relationships with our fellow image bearers is determined by the morality within those relationships.

Though I did not understand the profundity of Imago Dei when God brought me to faith and repentance in Christ, what I did understand is that as someone making a profession of faith in Christ, having been made alive together with Christ while dead in my trespasses and sins,

"And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it." Colossians 3:10 (Amplified Bible)

God had positionally made me alive together with Christ and had begun a process of making me in my condition, or walk, on Earth more conformed to that which I was in my heavenly position before God in Christ.

Even at the age of sixteen, an immediate change in me was that I hungered and thirsted after the things of God found in His Word. I was blessed beyond measure to have a Baptist pastor who met with me almost every Saturday afternoon to privately teach me how to study the Scriptures and to answer all my questions. This went on for three years until I went off to college.

Another vast difference in my life was the immediate desire to be like what I read in Scripture and not like that which I saw in the world. I was no longer comfortable "hanging out" with my teen peers and I sought out other believers. Our church had a "youth club building." An older high school student would pick me up on his motorcycle and we would use the building each Friday evening to pray for our Sunday schools fellows that they would come to faith in Christ.

Another almost inconceivable desire was to serve God full-time as a missionary. The thought never would have occurred to me before God drew me to Himself in repentance and faith. I maintained that desire until I was stricken with a neurological illness. However, I have managed, by God's Grace, to have a "ministry" online and in the Mexican church where we fellowship in Guanajuato, Mexico.

All of us are made, or created, in the Image or Likeness of God but cannot come into the realization of the full meaning of this apart from becoming New Creatures in Christ. We must come into a correct moral relationship with God, through His Son, in order to begin becoming conformed into the image of His Son (Rom. 12:1,2). This is what I believe to be a true, renewed Imago Dei.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Testament Worship and Today’s Church

From top to bottom the veil was rent, ushering in the fulfillment of the Old Testament's legal code of ordinances. No longer would Levitical priests enter into the holiest of the places within the Tabernacle to perform worship unto God. It is now Christ who has entered into the true and permanent Holy of Holies to sit at the right hand of the throne of God, not only as our Atonement but also as our Great High Priest. The mere types have yielded to the real thing: The Great High Priest. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ changed everything.

The Resurrected Christ brought a change in Priesthoods. The Levitical priesthood was no longer needed in light of Christ's eternal one. With the Old Testament Tabernacle worship ceremonies having been fulfilled, what was left in terms of a public worship service? A continuity of certain components of worship did carry over from the Old Testament to the New Testament dispensation that would form the church. I would suggest that though not a complete list, the following were the main components of the formation and continuation of the New Testament's worship.


From ancient times, Moses, in the Old Testament Scriptures, had been preached and read in Old Testament worship services. Similarly, the Apostles' letters were read to the church as part of Scripture.

"Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea."


"I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren."


The New Testament church taught and preached scripture through the venue of public address. Jesus was Himself an example of this in that He went into the public venues for Jewish worship, the Synagogues, preaching the Word of God. His disciples, after His ascension, mimicked this practice by going into people's homes and into their temples in the cities and villages.


Where people came to faith and trust in their Savior, the Lord Christ, assemblies or churches were formed. No longer was worship relegated to a city, Jerusalem, but to wherever there were Saints to form corporate worship. In Acts 2:42, there were four things to which the New Testament was devoted: 1) teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) breaking of bread, and 4) prayer.
These assemblies also were composed of gifted men and women who exercised these gifts given by the Holy Spirit of God unto the edification of the Assembly of the Saints. Some of these fellowships, as in the case of the church at Corinth, had fallen into the misuse of the gifts (among other atrocities) and had to be re-instructed in their proper and orderly uses.


The New Testament church also observed two sacraments, Breaking of Bread (the Lord's Supper) and Baptism. The New Testament was to exercise two outward signs of the New Covenant. Christ commanded the observance of the Lord's Supper and Paul expounded its meaning, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." This sign of the New Covenant was to be an ongoing observance within the New Testament church as was baptism.
Christ commanded this outward sign of the New Creation relationship the believer has with his identification in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection to be practiced.

"Though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory" than the old ordinances, the New Testament sacraments hold forth Christ "in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles."


The New Testament church was an assembly of prayer warriors. In the Old Testament, prayer was not solely Temple-bound. There were numerous venues in which prayer was made. Within the New Testament setting, there was congregational prayer. The doctrine or teaching of the Apostles to which the word says the Saints were devoted made much emphasis on prayer.


Another aspect of the New Testament Church was that its polity, or its operational and governing structure, was that of a plurality of leadership. There was no paid, professional clergy versus laity structure. Elders and deacons ruled the local assemblies. The word elder, or overseer, and its application to the leadership of the church are mentioned over 25 times in the New Testament.

The foundation for an elder-ruled church, how an elder is selected, the responsibilities within this church office, the moral and behavioral qualifications for elder are specifically spelled out in scripture, offering more insight into this New Testament church component that almost any other.

Today's worship within Evangelicalism tends to fall within three umbrellas of church order: 1) The Regulative Principle, 2) The Normative Principle, and 3) The Informed Principle.

The Regulative Principle idea of the order of church worship came into being sometime in the 20th century. Its basic meaning, when applied to the order of church worship, is "that only those elements that are instituted or appointed by command, precept or example in or by good and necessary consequence from the Bible are permissible in worship, or in other words, that God institutes in the Scriptures everything he requires for worship in the Church and that everything else is prohibited."

In other words, since those components mentioned above appeared in the New Testament church, they should also be the components of today's Christian church worship. Controversy exists in churches today in exactly how to apply the Regulative principle with special application to the use of musical instruments during congregational singing. The criteria for the rejecting or accepting of musical instruments used for the accompaniment of the singing seems to hinge on whether or not something mechanically-made by man is some sort of evil thing that should be ousted from the church's worship service.

I find the position by those who would oust the use of musical instruments an argument from silence and specious. Most of the "Regulative principle" adherents I know do not have a church polity in which Elders and deacons rule. Rather, they have a professionally paid clergy, a pastor, and he or "she" is usually the one who runs the church program from start to finish. I find this inconsistent that they would not apply the Regulative principle to church government but would chuck a fit over the use of musical instruments in the church.

The Normative Principle is a theological position, which posits that anything not specifically and directly forbidden in Scripture, like the use of musical instruments, can be incorporated as a part of a modern worship service. Moderation and common sense would be a ruling factor.

The Informed Principle is the idea of trying to strike a balance between the Regulative and the Normative Principles. This idea says that what is commanded in Scripture is required and what is forbidden in the Bible is prohibited in a worship service. Again, moderation, common sense, and logic can be ruling factors in what to allow and not to allow in those things to which Scripture does not speak.

Most of the Plymouth Brethren churches I have attended come close to applying the Regulative principle of worship. The worship service begins with a "call to worship," then there is a period of quiet in which the congregation is silently meditating on the Lord's Table, which is celebrated weekly. Men within the assembly may get up and share scripture or have a five- to ten-minute exposition of the Word. Songs encompassing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are sung. The song choice is impromptu and is suggested from the congregation.

At some unplanned point, a man will ask God's blessing upon the bread and cup. After partaking of the bread and cup, a period of fellowship ensues. Then come a period of corporate prayer and, afterwards, a longer, planned period of exposition of the Word.

Because these churches or assemblies are traditionally cessionists, there would not be speaking in tongues in these gatherings. There can be, however, the laying on of hands by the Elders for healing of the sick. I have never seen this in the Mexican Plymouth Brethren I attend, but, in theory, it is supposed to be permissible.