Month 4:21, Week 3:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year 5935:106 AM|
Omer Count Day 43/50
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 22 July 2011
Languages and Babbling
The Scriptural Tavnith on Tongues
It is a challenging matter trying to harmonise all the passages on scripture that talk about tongues and make them all fit one model. My wife, who for a period was involved in the charismatic movement, has always had one or two concerns about passages which don't seem to 'fit' our official position in this ministry.
For those of you who don't know, we have always taught that New Testament 'tongues' is the supernatural ability given by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to speak in a language which is not one's own tongue or one that has been learned by natural processes, and that the gift exist for the purpose of witnessing, edifying and prophesying. Thus when a pentecostal pastor I know of in Oslo was preaching in Norwegian suddenly began preaching in a Chinese dialect to a Chinese woman who entered his church one day and who herself had a poor grasp of Norwegian, and he not knowing what he was saying, and when he had finished and reverted back to Norwegian for the benefit of the rest of the congregation - and when that Chinese woman broke down in tears and received Yah'shua (Jesus) as her Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), that, we maintain, is authentic biblical 'tongues'.
Unfortunately, a wholly different perception of tongues is held by the pentecostal and charismatic movements which basically make the claim that someone who is baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) must speak in 'tongues' which is rarely (if at all) a known human language but (they claim) an 'unknown' or 'angel tongue'. Thus the one speaking it cannot be understood by anyone else - it is a private mode of communion (as opposed to a 'language' with grammar and vocabulary) between Yahweh and the tongue-speaker. Indeed, this babble isn't really a 'tongue' or 'language' at all in the biblical sense. Thus, they maintain, every true believer is expected to speak this babble as evidence of being born again and saved. Great pressure is placed on new believers to learn how to babble. My wife was taught how to do it and things did not go well for her thereafter.
I have been studying tongue-speaking for the last three decades or so and have been convinced that the majority of tongue-speaking is not only fleshy gibberish (nonsense) but often demonic. I can't go into my reasons for this here in any great depth today but those are interested can read the many thorough exegeses on our Tongues Website. My purpose today is to share with you something Yahweh gave me yesterday morning while I answered my wife's concerns as she showed me the passages of scripture that she couldn't quite make to 'fit' into our theology. As she showed me the passages the following diagram was given to me to answer every passage on this subject.
The key to resolving this mystery is, I believe, the understanding that prophecy and tongues are two sides of the same coin. Tongues is the first step in a two-stage process leading to prophecy. Indeed, prophecy and tongues are inseparable. Tongues do NOT exist for themselves - they are a tool for a special type of evangelism - the goal is always prophecy. Tongues are not for our own personal edification except in the sense that we are being used as a vessel by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to minister to someone else. The blessing the one speaking in tongues receives comes in encountering the presence of Yahweh as He uses us to bless others and the pleasure of seeing others being edified and brought closer to Messiah as a result of Yahweh using us.
All revelation is conveyed from one person to another by means of language, unless you happen to be telepathic. A revelation may be received but not understood at first because it is formless. It may then be unpacked by the Ruach (Spirit) as a cluster of pictures, feelings and words in varying mixes. Since we cannot take photocopies of images/visions given to us by Yahweh in our head to show others, we are left to translate these pictures into another medium of communication - words. Choosing the 'right words' is not, moreover, always easy, for our ability to do so is influenced by our own linguistic fluency and ability, or lack thereof. One of the problems is that at every level of 'translation' something is lost. Words are neither the purest nor ultimate medium of revelation. However, they are indispensible here in this sphere of mortality so we must wrestle as we learn how to use them in the most accurate way possible. And as language is constantly evolving and being diluted and corrupted by the careless mindset of our age, so we must devote much time to defining the terms we use to avoid misunderstanding. This includes rendering revelatory concepts and pictures into the modern vernacular.
Doing this in our own strength can require a lifetime of linguistic training and it is here that the gift of speaking languages supernaturally by the Ruach (Spirit) saves a lot of time and bypasses the human tendency to error. This supernatural ability to communicate Yahweh's Word accurately occurs in two forms:
- 1. The communication of a prophetic message in your own native tongue (like me using English); or
- 2. The communication of a prophetic message in an 'unknown' (to me) language like Chinese or Swahili, languages I never learned in the natural.
A Christian friend of mine was travelling by train in Communist China in the 1970's smuggling Bibles to that country to supply the house church movement. He knew only English but Yahweh gave him the gift of tongues when he found himself speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese to a man in his compartment. After Yahweh had delivered His message through my friend, the gift ended and he once again was only able to speak English. He wasn't a pentecostal or charismatic Christian either, but an Anglican. But he had emunah (faith) in Messiah, ahavah (love) for the Chinese people and the courage to venture into the countryside without a permit at a time when hardly anyone spoke English. He was alone. But Yahweh used Him, and He anointed him the gift of tongues on this one occasion. As far as I know he was never called to exercise the gift again. I know of othes who were likewise endowed. I published his story back in the days when I lived in Oxford, England at the request of another Anglican friend.
At the same time I know of Satanists who have spoken foreign languages supernaturally (they join pentecostal/charismatic meetings and curse the people there while speaking in tongues) as well as charismatic Christians whose tongue-speaking in meetings was recorded and sent to linguistic experts who identified, in one well documented case, a bona fide African tribal language in which the believer was, unknown to himself, blaspheming Yahweh. He did not know what he was saying but he was getting his usual psychic 'kick'. I also know of a Mormon who was able to suddenly speak Dutch fluently and another, Indonesian. I know of occultists who suddenly found themselves speaking foreign languages by some unknown supernatural method. And I knew one girl who, under the influence of demonic spirits, had compiled a completely 'unknown' language (which she claimed at the time was from aliens until she was delivered) that included a dictionary and script. Speaking some language not learned naturally by supernatural power does not prove it is from Yahweh. Neither believing in Christ proves it to be authentic, as has been proven so many times. What is important is believing in Messiah, being delivered from spiritual issues, discerning flesh and demons from Ruach (Spirit) and walking generally in commandment-keeping divine tavnith with the clear understanding, as Paul taught, that the gift is not for everyone, but just a few.
Those who speak authentic biblical tongues are also prophets. They have to be as they are delivering a message from Yahweh. Sometimes interpreters are used for the benefit of those present who do not speak the 'unknown' (to the tongue-speaker) tongue, and the interpreter will usually have no clue as to what the 'unknown' tongue is saying either - Yahweh does the translation viâ the Ruach (Spirit), giving him the English words (if that is his native tongue). The important point is that what is communicated is not only authentic but also meaningful to all present. Therefore mass outbreaks of babbling that occur in some churches (such as in the Church of God of Prophecy) is out of tavnith and false by default. Only one speaks at a time, there must be interrpetation for the benefit of those who don't understand the supernaturally translated language, and this should not happen more than two or three times in a meeting. There has to be order. This is not a time to show-off the gift or to get prophecy for its own sake as immature and undisciplined congregations such as the ancient one at Corinth are wont to do.
It's very easy to test and authenticate tongues. A classical Greek scholar and believer, who knew his Greek New Testament by heart, visited numerous pentecostal and charismatic congregations in England testing the spirits there. He would stand up and recite a passage from the New Testament in Greek. An 'interpreter' from the congregation, not knowing who he was or what he was doing, would stand up and 'translate' into English as directed by the 'Holy Ghost', supposedly. The only problem was that the English 'translation' was utter rubbish and was 100% disconnected from what the Greek-speaker was actually saying. Even when the congregation was presented with the truth of what was happening, that their interpreations were intirely imaginary, they refused to repent, change and test. The tradition was more important to them. You see. this kind of 'interpretation' is just wishful thinking. It is not the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And neither, likely, is the 'tongues' being 'interpreted' either.
This same spiritual casualness is to be found generally in pentecostal and charismatic churches in 'prophecy' rendered directly into the native tongue. There are so many false prophecies issued by evangelists of international repute that have failed but there is neither repentance for issuing a false word and - more important - any kind of review as to why these false prophecies are being received. Why? Because it would mean disbanding the ministries altogether, losing flocks, money, reputation and much more besides. (See The Wild Charismatic West). The spirit of discernment in the Body of Messiah - messianic as well as evangelical - currently is appalling. I am sure you will recall a recently failed rapture predicton by Harold Camping.
Unfortunately this kind of activity is rarely tested by pentecostals and evangelicals whose 'validation' of tongues is wholly subjective - it feels good and therefore must be right to them. Besides they have been doing it for so long, it's the life of their church activity, who would dare question it? But it's dangerous. No one is spiritually edified - it is little more than psychic titillation. Much of it is harmless (like an infant babbling nonsense and enjoying listening to its own sounds) but the rest is without doubt demonic, especially when used to give spiritual teachings. And having been involved in deliverance ministry for the last decade, and tested so-called 'tongues' in charismatics and pentecostals, I can say without hestitation that it is bondage - it is preventing believers from maturing.
Sadly, though not wholly unexpectedly, this kind of 'tongue'-speaking is infiltrating the messianic groups. People are seducted by the thought of Yahweh being 'there' in a dramatic way and so they lust after it. However, Yahweh is not in the business of drama. How many Red Sea Crossings have you heard of in the last few thousand years? Yes, miracles happen, but Yahweh is more interested in the miracle of a delivered lev (heart) then He is in psychic titilation - in fact, He doesn't deal with the latter at all. He operates primarily in the realm of the Ruach (Spirit). Yes, we have our emotional highs but they are not the main thing - the main business of Elohim (God) is to make permanent changes inside you, not entertain you with concerts for the flesh. In fact, He's not in the entertainment business at all.
The supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages is pretty rare because frankly it is not needed that much. It's a very specialised form of prophecy. The supernatural ability to give a prophetic word in your own language should be common-place amongst believers, but it isn't. Instead, people are just learning worldly 'techniques'. Like Mormons with their prepared lessons and flip-charts, Christians and Messianics are repeating hackneyed clichés and simply teaching dead religion by rote to new believers and making them worse prisoners of the flesh than themselves. And here you have the two extreems - the wild charismatic tongue-speakers just babbling into the air under the control of the flesh or demonic spirits, and the spiritually dead legalists who worship dead words and commentaries thinking that in these activities they are being saved and are saving. The former lack emet (truth) and the latter lack chayim (life) and neither are properly on the derech (way).
We need to know our scriptures and we have to be open to the Ruach (Spirit) but we have to be in divine tavnith (pattern) first so that we are not open to anything. Some messianics (and others) who are keen to have their claims to be Yahweh's special pets validated are in a hurry to 'get' all the gifts to 'prove' to the world that they are the 'chosen ones'. We lost some people in the early days of our ministry because we didn't 'have' this gift - it was believed we were somehow incomplete. But it was never necessary. Our first congregations were all Norwegian and everyone spoke English and Norwegian so there was no need for 'tongues'. But we had plenty of prophecy which has been fulfilled time and time again! However, there's not so much psychic titillation in hearing prophecy from others.
The gift of tongues is a wonderful prophetic gift but it isn't for everyone and doesn't have to be 'practiced' (like a naturally-spoken language) to be 'retained'. It is given when needed by Yahweh. Period. It is not a test of spiritual birth or the baptism of fire. The test of spiritual rebirth is changed lives showing the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit). It is easy to fake tongues, as we have seen, but faking an authentic life in Messiah is much, much harder. So if you were looking for a test to identify a believer, would it be babble or some foreign language? I hope not. These are what I look for:
May you find shalom in following the authentic way!
"The fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) is love, simcha (joy), shalom (peace), longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal.5:22-23, NKJV - also see Eph.5:9).
 Cornelius: The Truth About Kashrut, Tongues and Ruach Baptism Revealed
 The Cornelius Story: Don't Be Deceived by the Charismatics
Comments from Readers
 "I think its a mistake to say [we] condemn... of all tongues - rather, [what we] say [is] that most of what is being called the 'true gift' of tongues is't the real deal, but comes from counterfeit spirirts, and that many are unwilling to test the tongues they speak to confirm when its genuine or not. There are true tongues through the Holy Spirit, but its not incoherent speech but rather known languages (that the speaker themselves may otherwise not have known), usually given with the purpose of being able to proclaim or confirm the gospel (like the apostles after Pentecost). We do have to be very careful, as trying to pass of a counterfeit of this gift is a favourite spiritual attack strategy of the enemy (confirmed by how many in the occult speak in 'ecstatic' tongues through demonic spirits). We should be testing and challenging the spirirt it comes from in Christ's name - if its the Holy Spirit, Elohim will take no offense because we are being obedient and testing all spirits like He commanded us to through John. If it isn't, there will be a reaction, and we need to be honest and humble enough to come to him to deal with it. Incidentally, I have heard beautiful testimony before of where Elohim gave the gift of true tongues to someone without them even realising it to bring Himself glory. A pastor I know was once taken along onto a mission trip, and while talking to members in a community, met a person who had a broken guitar. Through signing and using hand signals, the man asked for his help (they couldn't understand or speak to each other at all). The pastor went with him and did everything he could to help him fix the guitar. At one point, the man brought him before another group in the community, and through more singing, saw they wanted him to speak. He had no interpreter or translator, and thinking that he wouldn't be able to understand any language he knew anyway, began to preach the gospel to them in what he believed was his mother tongue. Later, he found out from others in the community though that the Holy Spirit had actually given him the gift of tongues without him realising it - not only had that whole group understood what he was saying, but they heard and received the gospel and were saved that day" (DP, South Africa, 24 November 2013)