The Gift of Tongues, No. 6
This is the sixth in the series on the
study of the gift of tongues. You perhaps have noticed that
we have spent considerable time on this particular spiritual gift, and
it’s a temporary one, nonexistent today at that, in comparison to what we have
spent on the other gifts. However, the apostle
Paul had the same problem. The problem
was that in his day the gift of tongues was being abused.
It was being distorted, and when he came to
writing the book of 1 Corinthians, he had to spend chapters 12, 13, and
14 simply discussing this gift alone in order to try to clear it up and to
stabilize people on what they were doing in the Corinthian church.
Now the carnality of that church led
them to all the abuses that we have today. Therefore, the
passages that we’ve been looking at in 1 Corinthians 12 through
14 are an
excellent presentation and an analysis of what is going on today and
guidelines in how we are to meet these things.
We have been trying to show that the
Bible has some
principles relative to the subject of a Christian service, and that
expressed through the spiritual gifts. We
have sought to show that some of these spiritual gifts were temporary
nature. They were for the infancy stage
of the church in the New Testament only.
We have been pointing to satanic
counterfeits of these
temporary spiritual gifts in our own day.
We have been pointing to these counterfeits without
apology and in spite
of the fact that some very dignified personalities and some very
personalities in our day throw a weight of aura of dignity across the
movement and its practices. Healers and
tongue devotees are now becoming prominent TV personalities. Maybe you don’t like to hear them
by name, but there are some of you who might just inadvertently be hurt
don’t have some identifying marks.
One of the great things about the Lord
Jesus Christ was that
He got indignant when the people of God were made fools of in spiritual
things. So He stormed into the temple
and made a tremendous scene in casting out the moneychangers. He pointed His finger at the religious
leaders of His day, all of whom did the right thing relative to the law
down the line. They could not be faulted
on that, but they were fakes and frauds, and they condoned evil, and
ball. Jesus Christ called them down for
playing ball with evil.
So we are not saying that these people
are all bad or that
they’re not sincere. We’re not
saying that they’re not believers; that they’re not born
again. We’re just saying that they
are distorted on
an area of doctrine that can destroy your spiritual reward in heaven if
follow their course. Healers and the
tongues devotees are all the same ball of wax today.
It is a satanic delusion that broods upon the
Christian church that we cannot shake off, and which in fact will
become worse. Healers build vast
reputations and people flock to them.
They promote the tongues movement and people feel
they have come in
touch with God.
Now of course before you’re
going to be a healer, and if
some of you here are thinking this morning of getting into the healing
I’ll tell you one of the first places you’ll have to begin. You’ll have to have a great experience
healing yourself. In a little volume
called The Modern Tongues and Healing Movement by Carroll
there is an interesting quote. Mr. Stegall
says, “Invented stories and fabrications of healings which are
passed off as
real: Into this category fall the
ridiculous tales invented by the healers themselves.
Before any healer can go far, he must be able
to tell how he himself was healed. They
vie with one another in inventing more fantastic stories.
Oral Roberts has not much to boast of.
He was only dying of tuberculosis.
Jaggers, of course, who was a great west
coast healer, does best. He died and was
restored to life. Resistance to Jaggers
some years ago when I was a Dallas seminary student was turning Dallas
down with his great healing meetings in Fair Park auditorium in which
had a heart attack right in the middle of the service.
Mrs. Danish went forward and told Mr. Jaggers
that if he didn’t do something, he would have the opportunity of
to raise somebody from the dead. And Mr.
Jaggers jumped to the platform, called the meeting to attention, had a
prayer, and dismissed it just like that.
The offering had already been taken so there
wasn’t much more to hold on
to, and the meeting broke up. Then I
chased the man who had the heart attack, and Mr. Jaggers went there as
bleeding at the mouth in his car.
Jaggers put his hand on his chest and said,
“Now in the name of Jesus I
command this heart to be healed.” And
looked at the man and said, “I believe your heart is now whole
and healed.” And the man looked at
him and smiled, and
they took him away. By morning he may
have been dead for all I know. I’d
to know what happened.
Now this is fraudulent.
This is blasphemy, and this is bigtime.
And the healers begin with something great that
themselves. They promote stories. I know you don’ know about this because
don’t move in these circles. You
go to Pentecostal meetings. You
sit there and listen to people who will get up and for an hour relate
healing experiences. People sit there
shouting, “Hallelujah. Praise God. Isn’t this great?”
So these testimonies go—some
pathetic, some obviously
fraudulent, some ridiculous, but always dignified by the healers. That’s what we’re dealing
tongues, the whole Pentecostal bit, dignified, and because people now
famous names, it is hard to say, “Now wait a minute.
That much money. That
much building. That much TV time. That much radio time. That
much publicity. That many famous movie
surrounding you must indicate that God is in all of this working. This can’t be Satan pulling a big con
So the healers seek to dignify and
confirm themselves. Mr. Stegall goes on
and says, “In his March,
1952 issue of Healing Waters, Oral Roberts printed a cover
showed three men, the caption reading, ‘Three great medical
congratulate Oral Roberts for his ministry of faith to suffering
during the Roberts’ campaign in Phoenix.’
The names of the doctors are given and another
photograph in the
magazine shows Dr. J. H. Miller, outstanding medical doctor, president
medical society of over 20,000 physicians.
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, who many of
you will know, the
nationally known pastor of the 10th Presbyterian Church in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and editor of the magazine of Christian
took the time to do a little research into these doctors.
An inquiry to the American Medical
Association brought the answer to their bureau of investigation that
not one of
the men mentioned in the captions could be identified as doctors of
licensed to practice medicine in Arizona.
One of the three men was tracked down through a
telephone directory in
Phoenix and was found to be operating as a naturopathic physician, that
say, a quack doctor. No organization
headed by Dr. Miller was discovered. A
north town clinic supposedly operated by one of the men was nonexistent
also. Yet this so-called man of God has
the temerity to claim support from three great medical doctors.”
Now after that wonderful testimony to
the healing prowess of
Mr. Roberts, Mr. Stegall notes another interesting incident relative to
Roberts. On one occasion when he was
having a campaign in Amarillo, Texas: “When
a Texas windstorm blew up and a tent collapsed.
Sixteen people required hospitalization and many
more were injured. Could not Roberts have
restored them all to
health instantly with a word? Alas not a
miracle was worked. And all the broken
bones had to heal via the time-honored sling-and-cast method. But was Oral Roberts discredited?
Not at all.
He reappeared in Atlanta with a new and finer tent
and held his campaign
there during which one I. M. Fowler, retired businessman from West
Alabama, suffered a stroke and was carried to the prayer tent. And while Roberts healed people in the big
tent, Mr. Fowler died in the little tent.
But still the people flocked to them, proving that
underestimating the fact when he suggested that a sucker is born every
Now let’s get it straight.
Healing and tongues are frauds of the worst satanic
kind of delusion and
disease upon Christendom today. If you
want to run around because it has now entered the established old line
and because you know educated college professors, lawyers, doctors,
now pursue this practice, as putting upon it a dignity, you better
attending a few meetings. You better get
yourself into the swing of the Pentecostal movement and find out
what’s really going
on before you commit yourself and the circle of people that you
this thing that is a blasphemy against the living God.
There is lots of money in healing.
Mr. Stegall points out many of the
techniques. Some of these are very
tempting. Here’s one I’ve been
myself. He says, “In Birmingham,
Roberts had a clothesline strung up around the inside perimeter of the
announced one night that he didn’t want anybody to leave until
$1,700 was pinned
to it.” I’ve got the rope and
clothespins at the back. I just
got the nerve up to now, but I’m thinking about it.
I’ve sat in these meetings where
I’ve seen these men walk up
and down the aisle and say, “Now I’m going to take an
offering.” They walk down and say,
“Now I want you to
hold the money up. Hold the money up
high. I just want a rustling offering,
just a rustling offering.” Now
going to sit there and hold up a dollar bill and look like a cheapskate? He walked up and down the aisles and every
bill he would take he would say, “Five dollars for the Lord. Twenty dollars for the Lord.
Three dollars for the Lord.”
Up and down the aisles.
Now some of you have been ringing the
phone and calling my
attention to Life magazine this week which has a big article entitled The
Confessions of Marjoe. Marjoe is a
movie of a semi-documentary type. It is
actually the presentation of a young man.
I think he’s about 28 now.
about the age of three he was used by his Pentecostal parents on the
circuit. He was presented as being the
child wonder. His mother would carefully
school him in sermons that he would preach.
She would give him certain queue words.
She would sit there and she would yell,
“Hallelujah,” and that would
signal that he was to do something. “Praise
the Lord.” That would mean something
else. Slow down. You’re
talking too fast. Then some other phrase
like “Blessed Jesus”
might mean take up the offering.
He would run up and down the aisle. If some sweet old lady gave him $20 she would
get to kiss him, this little four-year-old.
It was an expose’ of the whole Pentecostal
revival circuit. That’s fantastic. But in the article I found one statement that
I thought was very interesting. Marjoe
happens to be the combination of the names Mary and Joseph. Marjoe drifted out in his adult years, out of
the revival circuit. He went to
California and fell into the hippie culture.
He became deeply involved in the whole hippie bit,
and then he came out
of it. When he came out of it he decided
to go back to the preaching circuit that he was so capable at since the
his childhood. But this time he came
with certain specific sermons on subjects that he thought were relevant
society, involving Jesus, Bob Dylan, and social justice.
He felt he had something to say.
He had been through some experience where he
had something to say.
So he set up a series of meetings. He had 400 people in San Antonio the first
night; 30 the second night; and, the meeting closed in a week. He had another meeting then in another place,
in New Orleans. That was equally
disastrous. When he got to Indiana there
was a third flop. Then, the article
says, Marjoe learned something he never understood as a child. The Pentecostal congregations were getting
precisely the religious experience they wanted—very incisive. They were getting exactly the religious
experience they wanted. And you and I
run exactly the same danger.
The article goes on and says,
“The realization made Marjoe
angry and contemptuous. If they wanted a
show, he decided nobody could give him a better one than he. Soon he was back on hellfire and damnation,
and his reputation soared. If you and I
subject the Word of God to our human values, we are going to get
Let me show you something.
Here is the triune God. This
wonderful God has given to you and me divine viewpoint.
He has made it available. This
divine viewpoint is conveyed through
what the Bible calls teachings or doctrine.
There is no other way to receive divine viewpoint
Now let’s say for just a moment,
if this is true… And you may want
to challenge this. You may think that you
can get divine
viewpoint through a dream. You think you
may get divine viewpoint through a vision.
That you can get divine viewpoint through a feeling. That you can get divine viewpoint through the
advice of Christian friends. That you
can get divine viewpoint through your reason.
Maybe even through your senses.
But suppose for the moment that it is
true that the only way
you can get God’s point of view on feelings and plans and
movements of your
will is through doctrine; and that this doctrine will give you
God’s plan for
your life, and that’s the only way you’ll get it then. And that this plan will provide divine good
production. That’s the only way
produce it, when you’re in God’s plan as a result of
doctrine. And that this will give you
in heaven. And every reward you get is to
the destruction of Satan and his cause.
At what point in this chain here that I’ve
drawn do you think Satan
would begin to bring pressure to bear? Right
there, dear friends—against doctrine. He
will start striking against doctrine because everything else underneath
collapses without this. If you can only
get divine viewpoint through knowing doctrinal principles, then this is
is going to hit, and this is exactly what he does.
Satan comes along and he has various
little cute ways of
expressing this. He’ll come to you
say, “I’m going to start teaching this group that
I’ve got with practical
things, where they live.” The minute
hear somebody say, “I’m going to start teaching people
where they live,
practical things that apply to them,” you had better see red
flags going up all
around you. Because what you are doing
is listening to a person who is saying, “Doctrine will not
function in a
life. What we need to do is come up with
some little gimmick.” Christian
tends to do this. Christian education
tends to take the position and operate on the theory that if people out
are not responding to the Word of God, you’ve got to figure out
device to get them to respond. You start
looking in the New Testament and you show me where the devices are that
Paul used to get people to respond.
Now once people get doctrine, they can
go positive or they
can go negative. When anybody knows the
Word of truth and you have done a good job under the capacity of
guidance of the filling of the Holy Spirit through the gift of teaching
have conveyed the truth so that it is understood, and a person does not
respond, don’t you kid yourself for one moment with the delusion
that all you
have to do is figure out a new technique and a new approach and
running to be responsive. If you’ve
a group you’re teaching and they’re turned off and you have
taught under the
power of the spirit of God and got your facts straight, it is not
what you have given them. It’s
of an internal negative volition attitude toward the truth. You and I can treat the Word of God in just
that way. Satan in the most subtle ways
will make us start putting pressure against the sources of doctrine. So we can create things, what Satan prefers
us to operate on—little emotional kicks.
So emotions begin dominating like a woman who runs
her husband. Instead of responding to her
dominates and runs the show.
Now this is what tongues is all about. This is what this whole Pentecostal racket is
all about. Somebody who got to
doctrine. And once this was destroyed,
Satan has been able to create every counterfeit fraud he wants.
Now we have come to 1 Corinthians 14
this morning. This chapter has one fine
point to it, and
that is that prophecy is infinitely superior to tongues.
1 Corinthians 13 has pointed out that tongues
is for the infancy stage of the church.
1 Corinthians 14 says that doctrine is for the
mature stage of the
church. I’ll show you how people
doctrine. I had a lady one time who
grieved to me over the condition of her husband. He
was way out of it spiritually. He had
never been taught. He was not informed. She managed to have him come to church for a
few weeks, and then she said, “We’ve decided to go to
another little place”
that she mentioned in town, and I happened to know that that was a nice
place. She said, “Berean is a place
mature Christians.” And the poor
did not realize what she was saying. The
very thing she wanted for her husband, to come to spiritual maturity,
denying him by taking him off to someplace where he could listen to
inspirational sermons, rather than somebody who was saying, “Now
God has given
you this. Here’s what it means. Here’s the explanation.
Here’s the understanding.
Now you’ve got the equipment and you can go
on with it.” And Satan had gotten to
her. She didn’t realize that the
thing her husband needed was to stay right here where, in time, he
stabilized as a godly man.
1 Corinthians 14
1 Corinthians 14 says that tongues is
nothing, but doctrine
is everything. Paul begins, having come
to the end of chapter 13. Chapter 13 is
a great chapter on being filled with the spirit. So
Paul says in verse 1 of chapter 14, “Follow
after love. Desire spiritual gifts, but
rather that ye may prophesy.” “Follow
after love.” The word
“follow” in the
Greek is this word “dioko,” and “dioko” means
“to pursue” or “to chase after.”
“To chase after love.”
The grammar here is very informative.
It is in the present tense which means it’s a
constant priority of our lives, that of everything we are to chase it
is to be
after love (which as you know means the filling of the spirit). It’s an imperative.
It’s a command. We
are to seek the filling of the
spirit. It is active.
We are to meet the condition for filling of
the spirit with the confession of known sins.
It is in the second person plural which means that
this is the
congregation that is to desire this status of spirituality for the
church as a
whole. We as a whole should be
constantly concerned that everybody among us is a devotee of being
the spirit. That everybody in this
assembly is devoted to be a spirit-filled Christian and not letting
sin lie around dirtying up the floor under his feet.
This is because if every believer is
spirit-filled, this congregation can never go astray.
Gamaliel’s advice will always come in. If you think something is moving in the wrong
direction, just take care and wait upon God because you may be fighting
very thing that God wants done. Unless
you are filled with the spirit and you are operating on that by faith
in Him to unravel, to close doors, and to open doors, you may find
like Gamaliel said—beating against the very thing that God wants
God, and that will destroy you.
You as a congregation, Paul says,
follow and pursue after
love. “Love” is that Greek
which is a relaxed mental attitude of a mind free of the root of
that Hebrews 12:15 speaks of. It warns
us against this root of bitterness. This
root of bitterness is self-destructive.
It destroys our mental attitude and it brings in
sins. Now the word “love” is
manifestation of the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22. You cannot have that “agape”
which is a mental attitude, without being filled with the spirit. Therefore when he says pursue (chase after)
love, it’s the same thing as if you were saying “pursue
after being filled with
the spirit,” because you cannot have this mental attitude free of
unless you are filled with the spirit.
That’s why 1 Corinthians 13 is the great
spirituality chapter of the
Bible, the great chapter on being filled with the spirit.
And “love” is equivalent as a word with
concept of being filled with the spirit.
Now he says this congregation should
spiritual gifts for its assembly. The
word “desire” is the Greek word “zeloo.”
“Zeloo” means to have a zeal for.
You can see where we get our English word
“zeal.” This again is present. It’s a matter of constant concern. It’s a command. We
are to esteem spiritual gifts. It’s
We are to be actively engaged in asking for God the
Holy Spirit to
provide Berean Memorial Church, as they were in Corinth, with specific
edification. The whole congregation
second plural again) is to act in this.
Now the purpose of filling and the
purpose of seeking these
gifts is then given in the last part of the verse, “but rather
that ye may
prophesy.” The word
“rather” expresses a
purpose: in order that ye may keep on
prophesying. Remember that the key point
here in 1 Corinthians 14 is that the greatest value to the local church
edification. That’s done through the
spiritual gifts, and prophesying was the primary way that a person was
because prophesying was bringing doctrine.
Prophesying was bringing revelations of truth from
God directly through
the person who had the gift of prophecy.
So edification here:
rather that ye may prophesy.
Edification throughout this chapter becomes the big
thing. You see it again and again in
verses 3, 4, 5,
12, 17, 26, and so on. Paul does not
urge us to seek the gift of tongues, but he does urge us to seek the
In verses 2 through 5 he says that
tongues has limited value
for edification. He says, “For he
speaketh in a tongue.” And take your
pencil and if you have the word “unknown” which the
interpreter slipped in
there, get rid of it. This is the most
deceptive thing. It throws more people
off. “For he that speaketh in a
tongue.” That means a foreign
language. The word for
“tongue” in the book of 1
Corinthians is the same as used in the book of Acts where it meant
language. This word “unknown”
is not in
the Greek text. That’s why
“He that speaketh in a tongue
speaketh not unto men but unto
God, for no man understandeth him. However
in the spirit he speaketh mystery.” Some
of you have translations that use the word “ecstasy,” which
is a very bad word
here. Some of these modern translations
say, “For he that speaketh in an ecstasy.”
That is completely false. The
idea is “he that speaketh in a foreign language.” It has nothing to do with gibberish or
Now the tongues advocate uses this
verse as proof that the
use of tongues is speaking to God. When
somebody comes and says, “Well, you’re just talking
gibberish,” the Pentecostalist
will say, “Oh, yeah, I know I am. But
talking to God and He understands me.”
When you say, “Where do you get that
idea?” he will take you to 1
Corinthians 14:2, “He that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto
men but unto
God.” But Paul’s point is this: That speaking in tongues in a local church
where people don’t understand the language is bad because it does
edification. It does not give you
doctrinal information to stabilize and structure your life on. What Paul is saying is that tongues is a bad
that only God can understand because God is omniscient.
So here you get up and you start
speaking in a foreign
language in some congregation, and it’s a genuine foreign
language. That’s what it was here in
Corinth. And there is nobody to translate. What good is it to the congregation? If the main point of a spiritual gift is
edification of the believers, how can anybody be edified by something
understand? So Paul says, “All
doing is standing there in that congregation and only God can
because He knows everything. Nobody else
in the place can understand a thing.” He
is not saying that you are speaking to God.
No matter what mysteries you may be delivering of
spiritual truth from
God, it doesn’t do anyone any good in a language he can’t
So an interpreter was always necessary. This thing is constantly violated in
churches—the interpretation practice.
Actually sometimes there may be two or three people
who will stand up
and they’ll interpret one supposedly prophetic declaration that
up and claims to have received from God.
Verse 3 says, “But he that
prophesies speaketh unto men to
edification (he that teaches doctrine is the idea) and exhortation and
comfort.” With intelligible language
spiritual edification that gives guidance and blessing.
In the New Testament church the gift of
prophecy was the primary means of instructing the believers in doctrine. How do we do it today? Through
the New Testament Scripture, the
completed canon of Scripture.
Verse 4 says, “He that speaketh
in an unknown tongue
edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. The tongue speaker can only hope to edify
himself while prophecy will build up the entire congregation. I must emphasize to you again that
self-edification is not the purpose of any spiritual gift.
Tongues people like to come along and say,
the bible tells me that when I speak in a tongue I edify myself, and
I do it. It’s a great edification to
me.” But that is not the purpose of
gifts. Those who have the gift on
tongues were no doubt edified and blessed as they exercised this gift,
true of any gift. Just because you have
the gift of evangelism and you are edified and blessed as you exercise
of evangelism, are you saying that the purpose of the gift of
self-edification? No, you wouldn’t
that because that isn’t the purpose, nor was it of tongues.
The Pentecostalist in their doctrinal
confusion turn tongues
into a selfish thing and it’s a false premise.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says that the filling of the
spirit does not seek to
use tongues for self-edification. 1
Corinthians 13:5 says, “It seeketh not its own.” The Greek means, “It doesn’t seek
for itself.” It does not use tongues
for its self-personal
Verse 5 says, “I would that ye
all speak with tongues, but
rather that ye prophesied, for greater is he that prophesieth than he
speaketh with tongues except he interpret that the church may receive
edifying. Here again the Pentecostalists
take this verse, “I would that ye all speak with tongues,”
and they say, “Aha,
you see, Paul wants everybody in the church to speak with
tongues,” even though
we have seen already that in chapter 12 in verse 30, where he says,
speak with tongues?” that the Greek indicates that the answer is
negative. No, they do not all speak with
So Paul is saying here in verse 5 that
he’d be happy if all
the Corinthian Christians did speak in tongues though they don’t
all. He’d have no objection to the
such. What he objects to is that the
gift is used, nobody interprets, and some of the people who were
tongues were speaking gibberish in Corinth, and consequently nobody was
benefitted or edified. Paul says, “I
would rather everybody in this church stood up and was prophesying,
doctrine. No that will do us some
good. Unless an interpreter is present
Verse 6 says, “Now brethren, if
I come unto you speaking in
tongues what shall I profit you except I shall speak either by
revelation or by
knowledge or by prophesying or by doctrine?”
Paul is saying that the gift of interpretation gave
practical value to
tongues. Then tongues became a vehicle
for revelation. It brought
knowledge. It brought prophesy. It brought doctrine.
Verse 7 says, “And even things
without life, having sound,
whether flute or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds,
it be known what is pipe or harp?” Now
around this place we certainly know that musical instruments have to
distinct sounds so that you will recognize the musical selection. Frequently when our band plays and we’re
quite sure of ourselves, I give them a little encouraging remark before
begin like, “Now let’s try to play it so they recognize the
That’s what Paul is saying.
Unless an instrument plays the right tones in the
right sequence and the
right order, who’s going to know what’s being played, let
alone to recognize
that that’s a flute playing or that’s a harp playing.
Verse 8 says, “For if the
trumpet giveth and uncertain
sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?”
Now in summer camp we use trumpets.
We use a bugler. He
everything. He runs our program. Sometimes we’re not sure what he blew,
especially when he gets up in the morning and his lips are all fat and
and we hear him walking around the cabin flapping his lips trying to
himself relaxed a little bit so he can make a sound.
And then the worst kind of reveille comes out
and everybody listens and says, “Now what did that mean?” Now if it’s calling to battle and the
can’t blow the thing so people understand that that was a charge
call, they’ll be milling around doing something else. Obviously everywhere in life, unless things
are distinct and understandable, there is no direction from what we
So verse 9 says, “So likewise
ye, except ye utter by the tongue
words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken for
speak into the air?” If you stand up
a church assembly and you speak in a foreign language that nobody
you’re talking into the air, and that’s it.
Have you ever been in a prayer meeting with people
who were bilingual and
they were not too good in English, and it came their time to pray, and
prayed in their own native language that they had a facility in, and
there as you listened to them pray?
Could you enter into their prayer?
Not at all. You sat
just waited for them to get done with their praying in their language
at that point the prayer meeting had come to an end for you. That’s what Paul is saying.
When people stand up and speak in tongues,
let along gibberish, it is absolutely nothing for edification, and
that a church service and a preaching service is all about to begin
In verses 10 and 11 Paul points out
that the world is full
of languages. There may be so many kinds
of voices or languages in the world and none of them is without
signification. “Therefore if I know
the meaning of the voice (the language) I shall be unto him that
barbarian (a foreigner), and he that speaketh shall be a foreigner unto
me.” If a language is not understood
people they’re foreigners to each other.
Verse 12 says, “Even so ye,
forasmuch as ye are zealous for
spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the
church.” Here’s our clue. Here’s our guide to spiritual gifts. Whatever you do in exercising your gift, who
is it to edify? It is to edify the
church, not yourself. You find no
indication in Scripture that the exercise of spiritual gifts is
self-edification. That may happen
incidentally. But the main point is that
the body of
believers to whom you minister through that gift through you are to be
Verses 13 through 19 tell us that
tongues are an inferior method
of worship, prayer, and praise. Verse 13
says, “Wherefore let him that speaketh in a foreign tongue pray
that he may
interpret.” If you’re going to
pray, have somebody interpret. Ask for
an interpreter. “For if I pray in a
tongue, my spirit prayeth but my understanding is unfruitful.” Now here again the Pentecostalists come and
say, “Now there you are. I’m
the spirit. This is spirit praying. When I sit in my private room and I babble to
God, this is spirit praying that I’m engaged in.” But this speaking about our human spirits. Any time you open your mouth in prayer it is
because you are praying from your human spirit.
It is your human spirit that is the point of contact
with God the Holy
Spirit. It is your human spirit that has
the reservoir of doctrinal understanding through which God the Holy
guides you in your praying. It
matter whether you pray in one language or another.
You are always praying through your
spirit. It doesn’t matter if you
your native tongue or some language that you have because of the gift
ability of tongues. You always pray from
your human spirit. The Christian is
contacted in the things of the Holy Spirit through the agency of his
You remember in 1 Corinthians chapter
2 verses 11 and 12,
that’s the point. “For what
the things of man except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man but
the spirit of God. Now we have not
received the spirit of the world,” and “the spirit of the
world” here is a
Greek expression for reasoning capacity, the ability to reason;
spirit,” (and that should be a small “s” not a
capital “S”. This is not God
the Holy Spirit. This is our human spirit.) “but the spirit who is from God”
(not “of God”),
it is the spirit that God gives us. The
Greek is entirely different here. It is
“out of God.” We have not
merely the reasoning capacities of the human mind, but we have received
spirit from God. For what purpose? “That we might know the things that are
freely given to us of God.” Do you
why you can enter into spiritual things?
Because at the moment that you were born again, one
of the wonderful
things that happened to you was that you came alive spiritually. You received a human spirit as a warehouse in
which to store divine concepts. At that
point the Holy Spirit deals with you and your life.
So Paul says in verse 14, “If I
pray in a tongue, my spirit
prayeth but my understanding is unfruitful.”
It says, “If I speak in a foreign language, I
may be speaking under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit. I may be
praying out of my spirit but I don’t know what I’m
saying.” Paul says in verse 15,
“What is it then? I’ll pray
with the spirit, but I’ll pray with
the understanding with my mentality also.
I will sing with the spirit and I’ll sing with
also. I’m going to pray. I’m going to sing. I’m
going to worship God with what I
understand and not just with what I do not understand.”
This is the travesty so long in Roman
Catholicism of using a
foreign language that people did not understand as an attempt to
God. Paul is saying he will not pray
without his mind understanding what comes from his human spirit. He will only pray and sing in a language he
understands, both privately and publicly.
Verses 16 and 17 say, “Else when
thou shall bless with the
spirit, how shall he that occupieth the place of the unlearned say
the giving of thanks; seeing he understandeth not what thou sayeth, for
verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.” Paul says, “How is someone going to join
with your prayer if they don’t understand?”
Verse 18 says, “I thank my God I
speak with tongues more
than you all.” Paul often used this
his missionary word. “Yet in the
I’d rather speak five words with my understanding (with my mind)
that by my
voice I might teach others also than ten thousand words in a foreign
that nobody understands.” Paul
a few intelligible words to all kinds of foreign words.
He goes on and says, “Brethren,
be ye not children in
understanding, however, in malice be ye children, but in understanding
men.” When the New Testament canon
completed, the gift of prophecy became unnecessary.
Paul in verse 20 solemnly warns these people
not to be childish about tongues. They’re
not to be immature in their minds about tongues. They’re
to not have these mental attitude
sins such as malice which destroy their spiritual life.
In understanding they are to be mature.
Remember that Paul uses this same
comparison in 1 Corinthians
13. He illustrates the temporary nature
of tongues and prophecy and knowledge, and he says that’s for the
stage. Then he goes on and he says,
we’re going to come to that which is perfect” (or
complete), which is the New
Testament Scriptures, and he says that’s for adulthood. And he uses the same precise word
the word for perfect mature when he says become men, that we should be
Finally this section closes with
verses 21 and 22 which
again remind us, Paul quoting Isaiah 28:11, that God had warned the
Jews at the
time that they were faced with the Assyrian conquest, that if they did
to Him, He would bring an invader in who would speak to them in a
foreign language, and that this signaled divine judgment upon the
nation. They did not listen to Him. The Assyrians came in. They
were taken into dispersed captivity and
they had to listen to God speaking to them through the sounds of a
The same thing happened on the day of
Pentecost. Paul connects it with that,
that this was God’s
warning to them though the languages of the Greco-Roman world, hearing
marvelous things of god spoken to them, not in their Jewish languages,
but as a
warning that God was going to bring national dispersion and discipline
nation. For 1500 years the Mosaic had
been their way of life. Now God was
saying, “That has all changed, and if you do not listen to me,
you will pay the
price, and I’m warning you by speaking to you in Gentile
languages here on the
day of Pentecost.” And they did not
listen. For 40 years God gave them
grace. For 40 years He gave them
opportunity. Finally in 70 A.D., the
Verse 21 says, “In the law it is
written (that is, in Isaiah
28:11), with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this
(that is, the Jews), and yet for all that they will not hear me saith
Lord. Wherefore (here’s the only
in the Bible that tells what the purpose of the gift of tongues is),
are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe
not.” Tongues were not for believing
people, Jew or
Gentile, but for unbelieving Jews specifically.
“But prophesying serveth not for them that
believe not, but for those
that believe.” Doctrine is for all
believers, Jew and Gentile alike. This
is God’s purpose. This is
of the comparative value of tongues and the gift of brining doctrinal
understanding. Do not be children in this
matter. Get with maturity.
If you are opposed to doctrine, if you are
finding yourself fighting this little chain here and striking at
are exactly what these Corinthians Christians did, and what Paul said,
careful. Grow up. Get
This is where it’s at, right here at doctrine. Everything else, the plan of God for your
life, the divine good you could produce, the rewards of heaven,
everything is hazarded
and destroyed when you let Satan say, “Well, let’s get more
practical. Let’s get more realistic. Let’s get where the kids live. Let’s get where these adults are so they
understand.” What you are saying is,
cover up some way the fact that this person is negative in his heart
understanding that God has graciously brought to him.
It all hinges on your understanding that
doctrine is the greatest virtue in the Christian life.
Dr. John E. Danish, 1971
to the Basic Bible Doctrine index
the Bible Questions index