Volume. XX, No. 35
Sunday, 26 February 2006

From the Pastors Heart: Tongues Speaking Part 2

General View of Pentecostals
The charismatic people believe that the gift of tongue speaking is important, but at the same time they are aware that not all believers of Christ can speak tongues.  They also argue that the gift of tongue speaking enables the believers to be able to speak languages they have not learned.  At the same time, they are aware that not all tongue speakers speak human languages.  Thus, a typical explanation for the nature of tongues is as following:

Some tongues are human languages, as on the Day of Pentecost (to show that the Gospel was for all races and nations); some tongues are of heavenly origin (of angels, used for praise and prayer where the mind is superceded: 1 Cor. 14:2; Rom. 8:26, 27).  Of these least, it is said that the speaker in tongues speaks to God, speaks mysteries and that no one understands him.  Tongues as a “sign” (1 Cor. 14:22) may be known languages by which witness is given to the unsaved; since the unsaved may be of any one of a number of tongues, there must therefore be various “kinds.”  If one employs tongues only in private devotion, the kind is not important; they will probably be new tongues or Spirit-given heavenly tongues.

What this article says is that there are at least two kinds of tongues: one is human and the other is angelic.  Thus, if we can understand it, then it is a human language.  If we do not understand it, then still there is no problem.  How can we understand an angelic language after all? 

Tongues = Languages Rejected
The charismatics reject a view that all tongues are human languages based on two reasons: (1) some tongue speakers appear to be ecstatic, which means that they speak tongues that do not belong to human language group.  (2) Some teachings of 1 Corinthians 14 appear to indicate that tongues are non-cognitive babblings.

Concerning the first point, there are many evidences indicating that modern day tongue speakers are not speaking human languages at all.  Numerous tapes of tongue utterances have not shown that modern tongues are human languages.  Romans 8:26 attracts our attention in this regard.  “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.”  It needs a bit of exposition.  Before I am going to analyse the verse, let me quote from Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, p. 341:

The most prevalent use of the gift of tongues is that of tongues as one’s prayer language (vv. 2, 14, 15; Rom. 8:26, 27).  Some have suggested that Jesus spoke in tongues inwardly when He prayed for the deaf and dumb man in Mark 7:34, for the same Greek word stenazo is used which is used in Romans 8:26 and translated “GROANINGS which cannot be uttered.”  Prayer in tongues is normal for a Spirit-filled Christian.  Believers are commanded thus to pray: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit . . .” (Ephesians 6:18).

As we can see, the authors (Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave) use Romans 8:26 to defend their position to speak in tongues.  Thus, we need to look into the verse more carefully.  We’ll be able to observe the following points: (1) We are not able to overcome our infirmities.  Thus, we do not know what we should pray for.  (2) The Holy Spirit comes to us for aids and helps us.  (3) The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  All these points lead the charismatics to think that groanings refer to speaking in tongues.  They say that there are times when we do not know how to express our thoughts and hearts, but groaning.  These groans are understood as prayers inspired by the Holy Spirit, which cannot be expressed by human languages.  However, this proposition must be dismissed not as a credible view.  It is because not all believers speak in tongues, first of all.  But the Spirit of God intercedes for all believers in times of their needs.  Besides, in Romans 8:26, it is not the believers but the Holy Spirit who groans.

Concerning the second point, Jack W. MacGorman argues that “Holy Spirit inspired utterance that is unintelligible apart from interpretation, itself an attendant gift.  It is a form of ecstatic utterance, a valid charismatic endowment” (The Gifts of the Spirit: An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, Nashville: Broadman, 1974, 390-91). 1 Corinthians 14:2, 13, 14, 18, 26 seem to support the view.

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”  No man understands it.  He speaks to God.  He speaks mystery.
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:13-14, “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue
    pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”  He does not understand it, but his spirit prays.  He needs to interpret.
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.”
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:26, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

However, even though we understand the tongues in these verses as human languages, they do make perfect senses, if we say that the speakers themselves do not know what they say.

Tongues = Languages
Acts 2 has been hailed as THE chapter for charismatic/Pentecostal movement.  In general, except some extremists most charismatics do agree that tongues in this chapter are human languages.  There is no indication that tongues in Acts and 1 Corinthians are essentially different. 

I’ll continue to dwell on this topic next week.

Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 34: What is adoption? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Winston Selvanayagam, Thomas Tan, John Tann, & Kevin Tye; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Gillian Ong’s grandfather, Aranka Rejtoe (RAH,  Ward S7), Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Auntie Oei and others afflicted with illness. "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions: Rev George van Buuren’s ministry & safety; Rev & Mrs Moses Hahn & Ministry (Sihanoukville), Bro Roth Phannith & Ministry (Paillin); Khmer Bible Students at FEBC (S’pore); b) Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam; c) Journey Mercies - Rev George van Buuren (Adl); family, relatives & friends of Bro Craig and Sis Clara, & others who are travelling; d) Sketch N’ Tell Ministry - Bro Hai Seng Lim & for his missions trip (Malaysia/Thailand/Cambodia); e) Easter Family Bible Camp at Victor Harbour, 14-17 April, & Speaker: Rev Colin Wong; g) Jobs - Bro Patrick Leong, Charles & Vivien Zhang, & Leo Xeng; h) Preparations - 20th Anniversary Celebration in June 2006.

Praise and Thank God for – a) YAF/Teens outing yesterday, Wednesday Night Bible Study & Prayer Meeting; b) Journey mercies - Bros Yik Ho Lam & You Wen Yeap; Sisters Su Sim Toh, Juanita Tong & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl) & others who have travelled. c) Successful YAF Outreach at Adelaide University on last Tue & Wed, and for the many students reached; d) Working bees on Fri and Sat.

Special Thanks to all who helped with the YAF Outreach at Adelaide University.

Special Items of Prayer: Ps Ki’s missions trip to Pakistan & for the LORD to provide $18,153 for Pastor’s car by 31 Mar 06.

Wedding of Bro Craig Samels & Sis Clara Koon:  All Hopefuls are invited to attend.



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