Tag Archive | Scripture

The Work of the Spirit | pt. 10

Tongues

Tongues are used in a few overlapping ways in Scripture and should be pursued and practiced as outlined in the Bible. Scripture shows us that the problem is not tongues but the abuse of the gift of tongues.[1] I think it should be admitted that even if we do not completely understand the gift of tongues we should not forbid their practice in private or publically when interpreted (1 Cor 14:27-28) because Paul explicitly says “do not forbid speaking in tongues” (v. 39).

Paul actually tells people to be ready to share a tongue (1 Cor 14:26) and he says, “I want you all to speak in tongues” (v. 5). Further, Paul tells us that he spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthians (v. 18).[2] Paul said all of this even though “one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit” (v. 2). Therefore, even though tongues are unintelligible to the human mind unless one is given the gift of interpretation (12:10), to speak in tongues is not wrong or bad (see 14:39); although, it should not be done publicly unless there is an interpreter (v. 28).

Many believe that tongues simply refer to a foreign human language (e.g. Ferguson, MacArthur).[3] Michael Horton says, “We should… understand ‘tongues’ as synonymous with natural languages, which some were miraculously gifted to speak and others to interpret.”[4] This understanding of tongues is simplistic and wrong for at least three reasons. (1) Tongues are used to speak to God. Paul says, the “one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit” (v. 2). In this way tongues, at least the way tongues are used here, may be similar to the groans that Romans speaks of (Rom 8:26-27). (2) If tongues are interpreted they seem to function in a similar way as prophecy thus they are different than a foreign speaker coming into a meeting that needs to be interpreted. (3) Paul says there are different types of tongues (1 Cor 12:10, 28). It seems that tongues (glossia) are used in overlapping ways in Scripture. R. P. Spittler points out that in Scripture we see that tongues refer to three types of overlapping phenomena. He says,

‘Kinds of tongues’ (génê glôssôn, 1 Cor. 12:10, 28) can refer to anything on a glossolalic continuum ranging from (1) prayer ‘with groans that words cannot express’ (Rom. 8:26, NIV; preferable to RSV ‘sighs too deep for words’), through (2) tongues speech in a controlled ecstatic jargon that ‘no one understands’ by someone who ‘utterers mysteries to God’ (1 Cor. 14:2), to (3) charismatic use of a recognizable language never learned by the speaker (Acts 2:8).[5]

Regarding tongues, it must also be pointed out that though tongues are good gifts that are given by the Spirit, tongues are not the marker of maturity. Further, tongues are not linked to a “second blessing” or to being filled with the Spirit.[6] Lastly, it must be understood that even if we do not understand something in Scripture does not mean it is wrong or that it does not continue. I, for example, do not understand, the seraphim. But I believe in them. In the same way, just because we may not understand every aspect of tongues does not mean that tongues do not still or cannot function as a blessing to the Church.

Here is a summary of what 1 Corinthians says regarding the gifts of tongues:

(1) There seem to be various kinds of tongues (1 Cor 12:10. 28 cf. 13:1; Acts 2:4).

(2) Tongues are unintelligible and unedifying to the group (1 Cor. 14:2-4, 6, 19) but are edifying to the speaker (v. 4).

(3) Tongues are not a foreign langue but are addressed to God (at least this is the case in 1 Corinthians) (vv. 2, 14-17).

(4) Tongues are not to be shared publically unless interpreted (1 Cor 14:6, 13, 26-33 cf. Acts 19:6).

(5) Tongues themselves are not forbidden but actually encouraged (1 Cor 14:5, 26).

(6) The regulations of tongues show that the tongues speaker is not in “ecstasy” or “out of control” (vv. 27-28).[7]

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Why should we read the Bible?

Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 9)

Some doubt the authority of the Bible but as we have already seen there are actually a lot of reasons to believe the Bible. The Bible itself also claims to be necessary and… 

Authoritative 

The Bible claims repeatedly to be more than mere human words. The Bible says it is inspired—breathed out—by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible has the authority, not as words from men, but as words from God (1 Thess. 2:13). “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.”[1] Wayne Grudem says, “The authority of Scripture means that all the words of Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”

The Bible is not merely a record of what God has said in the past but a means of God speaking today. That is a good thing. We need to hear what God has to say. We need God’s guidance and we need an authority. God alone is equipped to be that authority. 

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 8)

Many decide not to follow the Bible because it is in their opinion morally restrictive. However, we as humans need a definitive source of morality. We need a moral guide and the Bible is… 

Moral

As we have said, many people struggle with the morality that the Bible presents. D.A. Carson has said, “Many Christians slide away from full confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture for reasons that are not so much intellectual as broadly cultural.”[1] Many people, for example, do not agree with the Bible’s opposition towards homosexual practice.

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 7)

We have already looked at many reasons why we can believe the Bible. Yet, there are still many more. Here we briefly look at the Bible being trustworthy because it is… 

Prophetic

The Bible contains all sorts of fulfilled prophecies (see e.g. “The Prophecy of Daniel 8”), particularly about Jesus. These attest to the Bible’s uniqueness, truthfulness, and authority.

“Whatever one may think of the authority of and the message presented in the book we call the Bible, there is a world-wide agreement that in more ways than one it is the most remarkable volume that has ever been produced in these some five thousand years of writing on the part of the human race.

It is the only volume ever produced by man, or a group of men, in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations, to Israel, to all the peoples of the earth, to certain cities, and to the coming of One who was to be the Messiah. The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they use the words prophet and prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arise in the human race…”[1]

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 6)

“Why should I believe the Bible?” This might sound crazy to a lot of people but you should believe the Bible because it is…

Scientific

The Bible is not a scientific textbook. Yet it is accurate scientifically. The Bible concurs with all sorts of scientific discoveries. The Bible also lays the groundwork for scientific research to be carried out.

“Belief in the rationality of God not only led to the inductive method but also led to the conclusion that the universe is governed rationally by discoverable laws. This assumption is vitally important to scientific research, because in a pagan or polytheistic world, which saw its gods often engaged in jealous, irrational behavior in a world that was nonrational, any systematic investigation of such a world would seem futile. ”[1]

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 5)

“Why should I believe the Bible?” Because the Bible is…

Historical

The Bible reports actual historical events and the manuscripts that we have for the Bible are very reliable. Nothing in ancient literature matches the historical documentation of the Bible. Nothing really comes close.

“Compared with other ancient writings, the Bible has more manuscript evidence to support it than any ten pieces of classical literature combined.”[1]

“The reliability of the New Testament history is overwhelming when compared to that of any other book from the ancient world.”[2]

“The New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the documents, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual availability and integrity.”[3]

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 4)

“Why should I believe the Bible?” Well, one reason I believe the Bible is because I find it very… 

Compelling 

The Bible presents a very viable explanation of the world around us. It gives us a worldview that makes sense of reality. It adequately addresses and answers the most fundamental questions of life. Questions like: How did we get here? Is the world chaotic or ordered? What is a human being? Do humans have intrinsic worth? Why do we have a sense of morality? Is there truly morality; right and wrong, good and evil? What happens after we die? Why is it possible to know anything at all? What is the purpose of life? Why is the world so messed up? And is there any hope?

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 3)

As we consider the question “Why should I believe the Bible?” it is important to understand various things about the Bible. One of those things is that the Bible is amazingly… 

Unified

The Bible was written over the period of fifteen-hundred-years, by more than forty authors with varied backgrounds (e.g. king, herdsman, fisher, tax collector, physician) and literary styles (e.g. historical narrative, poetry, law, biography), on three different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and yet it tells one unified story.[1] The storyline of Scripture is amazing. It’s significance and glory can never be fully known and yet the storyline of Scripture can be beautifully portrayed in a three-minute video.

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 2)

“Why should I believe the Bible?”

That is a very important question and one that requires us to look at various aspects of the Bible. In the first post in this series, we considered that the Bible is literature.  It is also important that we realize that the Bible is… 

Complex

It is important to not think simplistically about the Bible.[1] The Bible is clear but it is also complex.[2] The youngest child can understand the core of it’s teaching yet the learned scholar can spend a lifetime pursuing understanding. We shouldn’t think we will be able to understand it’s mysteries in a few moments—let alone millions of them—but we also shouldn’t hopelessly resign to ignorance either. As the psalmist and many others have said and experienced, faithful digging leads to many treasures of gold.

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