Volume. XX, No. 37
Sunday, 12 March 2006

From the Pastors Heart: Tongues Speaking - Part 4

The following is one of most common explanations about tongues speaking among Charismatic people.  Hopefully, you readers will be able to see the problems of this sort of thinking clearly.  Tom Brown said:

Many people inaccurately define speaking in tongues as "speaking gibberish" or "talking nonsense." The truth is, speaking in tongues is the most intelligent, perfect language in the universe. It is God's language.  What language do you suppose people speak in heaven? Languages are given their name based on the countries they come from. For example, English comes from England. Spanish comes from Spain. Italian comes from Italy.  Well, where does tongues come from? It comes from Heaven! Tongues is the heavenly language. It is what is spoken in heaven; the only difference is that the people in heaven understand what they are saying. Here on earth Paul says, "For anyone who speaks in tongues does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understand him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (v. 2).  Jesus says that those who believe in Him will "speak in new tongues" (Mark 16:17). It is natural and normal to speak in the language of your birth. We are born again from above, therefore we should speak the language from above--that language is called "tongues."

Tongue speaking practically examined

John Kildahl said,

“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 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 the health of his children; another that 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 interpreter offered the explanation that God gave to one person one interpretation of the speech and to another person another interpretation. They showed no defensiveness about being cross-examined and generously upheld alternative interpretations as equally valid... 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 of the imminent second coming of Christ. (The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues, Harper & Rowe, 1972, 62-63).

D. A. Carlson said, “The tongues phenomena have been related to the speaker’s natural language (e.g., a German or French tongues-speaker will not use one of the two English ‘th’ sounds; and English tongues-speakers will never include the ‘u’ sound of French ‘cru’) . . . In any case, modern tongues are lexically uncommunicative and the few instances of reported modern xenoglossia are so poorly attested that no weight can be laid on them” (Showing the Spirit, 84).

Tongues speaking – languages continued (1 Corinthians 14:2)

1 Corinthians 14:2 says, “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.”  The tongue speakers are jumping into their fervent argument for their case by saying that this verse vindicates their cause.  Tongues are not necessarily human languages, they say, because when we pray with tongue speaking, we are not saying to men, but to God.  It is all right because we speak mysteries in our spirit.  Thus, tongues are heavenly or angelic language that man may not know. 

There are a few ways to understand the verse.  First, I may use D. A. Carlson’s words as he said that this verse (with other verses having the word “unknown”) makes a perfect sense, if we recognize that a speaker in the verse speaks a foreign language that no one present knows unless it is interpreted.  Second, Spiros Zodhiates has aptly spoken about the issue in his book, Speaking in tongues and Public Worship, as following:

The word “unknown” in this verse does not occur in the Greek text.  The translators inserted it to express their understanding of this phenomenon - a language unknown among men, not human, not understandable, a fabricated language that was no properly a language at all!  Apparently it was a loud emotional outburst of sounds by which some thought they could communicate with God.  Paul indicates in this verse that such a practice existed, but apparently only among the Corinthians, for it is never mentioned about other Christians or congregations.  Paul’s recognition of the existence of this unique practice among the Corinthians is not his approval of it.  Instead his attitude seems to be, “We’ll take you as you are and examine what you are doing.”  “With such unintelligible sounds you are evidently not speaking to men,” he continues.  It is useless to speak to men in a language you know they do not understand.  “Therefore,” Paul essentially says, “the only conclusion that you and I can come to about your practice is that you are speaking to God.”  Paul does not say that such utterances reach God or are God-ordained.  Step by step he sets forth his argument in unimpeachable logic . . . (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2-3).

If a man has to speak to God with an unintelligible language, but not a human language, what is the purpose of doing it?  Does God need a special language, not human language, to listen to our prayers?  The most appropriate way to understand verse 2 is that tongues speaking is of speaking human languages.  I’ll write more about 1 Corinthians 14 in near future.

Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No.  36: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification? The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein  to the end.

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, Dns Edwin D’Mello & 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, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Auntie Oei and others afflicted with illness. "Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord heal me; for my bones are vexed” (Ps 6: 2).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions: Rev & Mrs Luke Kim (Veal Renh); b) India/Pakistan Missions - protection and safety for Ps Ki; c) Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam; d) Journey Mercies - Pastor Ki (S’pore/Adl), and others who are travelling; e) Sketch N’ Tell Ministry - Bro Hai Seng Lim & his missions  to Malaysia/Thailand/Cambodia; f) Easter Family Bible Camp at Victor Harbour, 14-17 April, Speaker: Rev Colin Wong, & Camp organisers; g) Jobs - Bro Patrick Leong, Charles & Vivien Zhang, & Leo Xeng;

Praise and Thank God for – a) God’s guidance & protection for Ps Ki (Pakistan/India); b) Wed, YAF & AFG Bible Study & prayer meetings; c) Journey mercies - Bro Kooi Kam & Sis Amy Ang (Perth) & Bro Hai Seng Lim (S’pore/Mal); Sisters Wendy Gong (Kalgoorlie), Alice Lee (Adl), Wendy Wong (Pt Lincoln); family, relatives and friends of Bro Craig & Sis Clara Samels returning home interstate/overseas, & others who have travelled.

Special Items of Prayer: For the LORD to provide $17,813 for Pastor’s car by 31 Mar 06.

Next Quarter (Apr-Jun) Service Roster preparation: Please let Dn Edwin D’Mello know if you are NOT able to serve the LORD in the next quarter.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041