Are New Covenant Christians Wrong
Answering a Concerned Pentecostal
This I pray ... may the scales fall from your eyes and may you be able to see the truth. I say this with love and understanding and great compassion ... compassion for one so intelligent and so gifted but so wrong.
Nothing I say will convince you to believe anything different from what you have written and I will not try. I only know that when I happened upon your writings I felt a great sorrow for I knew that what you were writing truthfully concerning ideals you passionately believed. But ... Please ... consider this ... what if you are wrong? You have every right to believe any way you choose but you have chosen to share your views with countless others and sir?.....What if you are wrong?
Some things in this life are so simple that they escape our understanding and we must except them by faith ... Faith ... that wondrous choice ... believing in what we can't see, smell or touch. Faith in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, that all we have to do is believe in Him and accept Him as our Savior ... the simplicity escapes too many.
The wondrous gift of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was given to all Blood- bought believers and that gift can be accepted or refused. We each as individuals should read our Bible and pray for understanding and we must prayerfully consider our words to others for someone will listen and someone will believe and sir? What if you are wrong?
Thank you for your very kind and considerate letter. I really do appreciate your viewpoint even if I do not agree with it. I am conscious of the need to continue one's search in the Word, aware that noone is perfect, and always prepared to change a point-of-view and practice if shown to be wrong.
I have probably agonised longer over the question of tongues than any other doctrine because there are so many millions who believe in it. I have trodden carefully and warily with, I think, considerable justification. It is one thing to exercise blind faith in something but quite another to carefully test all supernatural phenomena against the Word. With so many supernatural manifestations in our day - and particularly in the last century - we are surely wise to be circumspect. I have seen so many counterfeit movements of the Holy Spirit leading to so many blatantly evil works that I am persuaded all the more to continue exercising caution.
I do not, as you probably know, take the Baptist position on spiritual gifts - I believe they are as much for our time as they were in the apostles' day. I myself have been blessed with the gift of seership and, upon occasion, prophecy. But the question of tongues is, because of the Corinthian abuse, one of serious contention simply because it is so widespread in all religions, even in satanism.
I was speaking with a Greek scholar the other day and I took the opportunity to ask him to translate the 'tongues' passages for me again, just in case I had missed anything out, and he confirmed that with the exception of one passage connected with angels, all relate to known languages or dialects. There is simply no evidence whatsoever that the first Christians spoke in unintelligible mumbo-jumbo - none whatsoever. Furthermore, Paul makes it very plain that the gifts (including tongues) are distributed in the Body - not everyone has the gift of languages. There is no evidence whatsoever that tongues is a sign for all born-again or Spirit- baptised believers. None.
As a minister and teacher of the Word a heavy responsibility falls upon me to teach what the Word says, and no more. I would be foolish indeed if I just exercised blind faith in any supernatural manifestation that crossed my path. As a deliverance minister painfully aware of the imitations and counterfeits of the demonic world, I must be doubly careful.
A careful study of the Baptism of John and the Baptism of Yah'shua (Jesus) shows that the former was a baptism of water and the latter a baptism of Spirit (fire). Combined together in the Christian Baptism, they become united as a single baptism. The token of Spirit baptism was revealed by the descent of the dove upon Christ - accompanied not by tongue-speaking but by Yahweh's approbation. The Holy Spirit is linked with this water-baptism in many places - Jn.3:5; Ac.2:38; 9:17-18; 10:47; 1 Cor.12:13; 2 Cor.1:22; Eph.1:13; and Tit.3:5. The Spirit is present at water-baptism, and it is the Spirit who accomplishes the spiritual operations of which the water is the sign and the seal (e.g. 1 Cor.12:13; Tit.3:5).
Since the devil can imitate almost everything we must turn to that which He cannot, and that is love, gentleness, holiness, purity, long-suffering, patience, etc., which are the chief and unimistakable gifts of the Spirit. When I judge whether someone is a believer or not, I look principally for these things, and for signs of obedience to the commandments, since these are the primary signs. So if I see someone talking in tongues who lacks the virtues of Christian grace and who is clearly ignoring the commandments, then I am at once persuaded that the supernatural manifestation may be fake. And my precident is what the Word says I must look for, since as a pastor I most always be on the alert to protect the sheep.
The gifts are, in any case, merely perfecting agents for the edification of the Body which will pass away when the fullness comes, and all that matters is Love. And how does Christ define love? He says, if you love Me, you will obey the commandments. And it is far easier to use this measure than something that is essentially unmeasurable and easily counterfeited. 'Emotional highs' are not evidence of truth.
Yes, Debbie, I too believe in that which is unseen. But tongues, you will agree, is something that is 'visible' (audible, to be be precise) and therefore testable. In most tongue-speaking churches I visit, the evidence of disobedience is disturbingly prevalent. Pauls' injunction that people speak in tongues or prophesy in an orderly manner - one at a time, and no more than three in a meeting/assembly, is almost universally flouted. This is enough to convince me that it is not of God. God is a God of order, not disobedience. And I don't care a fig if people are manifesting supernatural signs if what they are doing is contrary to the apostolic order and manifesting therefore a spirit of rebellion, which is as the sin of witchcraft. God's Word does not return to Him void. If His Word is being contradicted, then God Himself is being mocked.
I am therefore inclined to give more credance to those who follow the apostolic order. And I know one or two churches who do. The stuff I hear coming out people's mouths are, even when these criteria are met, just shere nonsense and of no edifying benefit to the Church. God is not wasteful. He does not repeat that which is already there to be read in His Word. And I have heard so much false prophecy come out of tongues that I am persuaded the more that it is either a human dysfunction or demonic ... or both. I have studied the recordings of tongues and the interpretations well enough to know that there isn't the slightest correspondence between the two in duration and content - well known words like "Israel" and "Jerusalem" which appear in interpretations, for example, are clearly totally absent in the original 'tongue'. And the fact of the matter is that the Lord is more than able to accomplish the same, if not, better results without tongues than with them.
Having said that I most certainly do believe in tongues - but not the interpretation and weight given them by modern charismatics. I know of ministers - many of them - who have supernaturally spoken in known foreign languages which they had never been taught which has led to dramatic conversions. This I believe in, even though I am aware that this too can be counterfeited. Far better, as Paul said, to speak a few comprehensible words in one's own native tongue than yards of gibberish which noone can follow.
The issues, scripturally-speaking, are complex as you will have seen if you have taken the trouble to read through my articles on the subject, and in particular my most recent summary in Tongues of Contention - to date no charismatic has been able to refute this, and Greek scholars have upheld it.
The bottom line, Debbie, is what you trust in. I trust in God's Word before I do any kind of supernatural manifestation because it is the Word which defines Truth. I have, unwisely, opened myself to charismatic-type tongues, and experienced it on two occasions, and it was profoundly disturbing. The feeling of being defiled and controlled against my will (a sure sign it is not right), and the awareness that the experience was disjunctive with the revealed Word, was enough to convince me that this was counterfeit. The fact that miracles take place around and by tongue speakers proves nothing whatsoever because I read of the same things happening in Hindu charismatic meetings and even know of satanists doing the same thing. Miracles, in any case, are supposed to be signs for those who believe already and were not given to establish faith. The only miracle that is absolutely needed in a believer is a transformed life in Christ as evidenced by love and obedience, the twin keys of discipleship.
My experience and study of charismatic Christianity has consistenly revealed its defections in terms of obedience. It places more emphasis on experience than on the Word, a sure trip-wire for immature Christians.
I would invite you to take a look at the Gospel with fresh eyes and to perhaps gain a new perspective that will liberate you in areas you probably never knew you needed liberating in. The Church is plagued by false teachings, most of them of recent origin. May the Lord of love bless and guide us in all truth, and may those blessings to you not be a few.
This page was created on 8 March 2002
Last updated on 8 March 2002
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