Speaking in Tongues Debate - 16 - Nearing the End

Chapter 16 


    This next-to-last chapter is for you my Pentecostal brother who, until now, has sincerely believed this particular point of doctrine, a teaching which now seems mutilated, and as out-of-date as the bronze serpent was in the time Hezekiah. The teaching of the Scriptures should be enough for you, but in spite of yourself, your environment still holds you under the influence of experiences which are tacked onto the Bible, sometimes for the better and many times for the worse.

    If the reading of this treatise precisely dealing with the gift of tongues has left so much as 1% of doubt in your mind, let me approach you on your favorite ground, that of experience itself. But as I do so, I tremble for fear that you will not be honest with yourself and with God. Try this experience for yourself and by yourself. Do it without cheating. Sometime when you are alone and in prayer, tape what you say in tongues before God. You believe that this gift has not been removed and that you genuinely possess it. That is your right, but you must also accept that your brother's gift of interpretation is as authentic as your gift. Choose several of the most spiritual Christians whom you know and in whom you have complete confidence. Ask each one separately to interpret your speaking in tongues. After taping all of them, listen and compare them for yourself, if you have the courage to do so. Within a few words or shades of meaning, each interpretation should say the same thing. Then you can tell me if I exaggerate when I use the word counterfeit. I can imagine what you are feeling as you read these lines. You are disturbed. You may be afraid; afraid to discover the truth. And already you are backing off. You know that you will probably never try this "test". Your heart has already found a good excuse to talk you out of it, but your excuse will convince no one but yourself " It would be sacreligious to put a gift of the Spirit to such an electronic test. I will not stoop to it." Are you sure that this is a good excuse? Under other circumstances you would not hesitate to tape a message, to listen to it yourself and even pass it along to someone else. Or is it the fear of discovering the truth about yourself that makes you hesitate? Here is a way to test the spirits and it is available to you. Besides, electronics is an exact science, and quite neutral. It could never trick you or trick itself. But maybe you would rather be tricked and stay that way. You might be angry with me. I can understand that. You are angry with me for proposing a means of verification that is infallible. The pat answer that "no one understands" is of no help now. Your game of hide-and-seek is over and you have been found out. It took me a long time, but at last I saw the light.

    Perhaps you do not really want to understand and see clearly-like the stubborn man who, when he learned that the saint to whom he often prayed never existed, replied, "Whether she exists or not, I will pray to her anyway! So there!" That is the epitome of the stubborness of the human heart. "I want my bronze serpent ... so there!" Go ahead and enjoy yourself with your gift. Cherish it. With that kind of an attitude your game can become an idol. If you refuse to dethrone it and throw it out of your life, beware lest God give you up to your own desires and to the spiritual ruin to which they lead.

The Remedy

    Several Christians who did not have this gift and who sought for it for years, shared with me their desperation because they had not been able to find it. They lived in the constant agony of being rejected by God. They had been told that they were not saved unless they had spoken in tongues. And if they persisted in saying that they were saved, they were considered to be second rate citizens and not full blooded ones with full rights. For you who are suffering from pangs of doubt, let me encourage you to stop tormenting yourself, and by faith to lay hold of the promise that all things are yours in Christ (Col 2: 10)-Christ, who never spoke in tongues Himself, though He is the SON OF GOD.

    Others have come to me and confessed their utter confusion, for their practice of this gift was nothing more than a facade hiding what was, in reality, spiritual and moral defeat. Their gift in tongues was a sort of compensation for a life of failure. They remained shallow although maintaining the appearance of spiritual depth. They needed this gift to boost themselves up in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. Those who spoke in tongues the most, suffered from a distressing instability which they had kept hidden, not daring to divulge it, and not knowing its cause. To reassure themselves of their spirituality and to keep face before others, they were constantly doubling the dose. They were caught in a vicious circle, turning around their own experiences.

    This quicksand of psychic experiences, to say the least, took them on a spiritual rollercoaster of unpredictable highs and lows, ecstasy one minute, tears the next. The diagram of their life was like the teeth of a saw, happy in the morning, down in the evening. Praising their pastor one month, cutting him to pieces the next. And changing churches like changing shirts.

    There is a way to deliverance. First, be sure that you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. Next, do as Hezekiah did who broke to pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made. That is to say, fully confess this unbiblical error before God. Finally, renounce this practice and claim the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses from all sin (I John 1: 7,9). When the Israelites forsook their "biblical" idol, their sin was forgiven. God will forgive yours, too. By faith you must take hold of God's full pardon and His complete deliverance from the psychic forces which reign over you and make you a slave, in spite of all your efforts, to their unstabilizing influence. At the feet of Jesus, Legion, the most unstable man you could meet, the man whose cries were not uttered, the man whose life was an elevator ride that always stopped at the bottom (Mark 5:5), found peace, rest, his right mind, and the power at last to bear coherent testimony to those around him. My fervent prayer is that these few lines would find you prostrate before Him Who delivers from all alienation, even that which is provoked by a biblical zeal void of knowledge (Rom 10:2).