Do All Speak with Tongues?

Maurice M. Johnson
Circa 1940

True godliness and Bible holiness are not ridiculed by spiritual Christians. This does not mean, however, that humble believers in our Lord Jesus Christ can escape the command of God to "prove all things, Hold fast to that which is good ... Abhor that which is evil." - 1 Thes. 5:21; Rom. 12:9. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man." - 1 Cor. 2:1-16.

The modern "Pentecostal" and "Holiness" movements are probably the result of the cold and formal religion of the "modernists." However, the differences between ritualism, modernism and fanaticism are more apparent than real. Those who reject the Biblical simplicity and true spirituality of "the church which is Christ's body" may fervently manifest their religious flesh in any one of these three groups.

Though this study deals specifically with the "tongues" movement, every departure from "the simplicity that is in Christ" is fundamentally touched herein for the simple reason that all spiritual error is, at its root, the rejection of the Bible. It can be proved from the Word of God that both "Pentecostalism" and all of the "holiness" (second blessing) sects deny these seven fundamental Bible truths:

  1. The efficacy of Christ's prayer that believers should receive the Holy Spirit. - John 7:38, 39; 14:13, 14; 15:26; 16:7; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:9; Gal. 3:2; 4:6; 1 Cor. 12:13.
  2. The efficacy of regeneration. - John 1:11-13; 3:36; 5:24; 1 John 5:13; Eph. 1:3; 3; 4:30.
  3. The efficacy of the Holy Spirit baptism that places every believer in the church. - 1 Cor 12:12, 13.
  4. The sufficiency of the Word of God for this present "church dispensation." - 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Tim. 3:14-16; 6:36; Rom. 15:4; 10:17; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23.
  5. The spirituality and authority of Paul, "the apostle of the Gentiles." - Rom. 11:13; 1 Tim. 2:7-15; 1 Cor. 14:34-37.
  6. The leadership of Christ and of man. - 1 Cor. 11:3-5; 14:34-37; 1 Tim, 2:7-15.
  7. The spiritual divisions of the Word of God. - 2 Tim. 2:15.

The Apostle Paul asked this question by divine inspiration (though he was not led to answer it directly). "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way." - Cor. 12: 29-31.

Is Seeing Colored Glory A Spiritual Sign?

T. J. McCrossan, B. A., B. D., et cetera, formerly teacher of Greek in Manitoba University, Presbyterian pastor, "Christian and Missionary Alliance" teacher and prolific writer has put out books on this subject. Though not desiring to be classed with the "tongues people" he is considered by them a very able and scholarly friend to their "later rain movement." In his booklet, "Speak With Other Tongues", he gives his own experience. On page 34 he says:
We saw a light far brighter than the noon day sun--a perfect blaze of glory. Then hundreds of tongues of fire seemed to dart forth upon and about us. Then for an hour or more great billows of glory, indescribably beautiful from the standpoint of light and colors, began to roll through our soul like mighty breakers over a sandy beach. Did any outsider need to tell us that the Holy Spirit had entered our life in a new way? No , indeed. Then the blessed Spirit took possession of our tongue and for an hour or more made us praise the Lord Jesus in a way we had never praised Him before. We were literally speaking with another tongue as the Spirit gave to us to utter forth, but it was all in English . . . Twice in our life we have actually heard the voice of God and His very words . . .
But Mr. McCrossan positively denies that all Spirit-baptized believers have to or can speak with tongues. He claims that it is a gift and not a "sign that you have been baptized." To refute the regular "Pentecostalists" he marshals "deeper experiences of famous Christians," Greek prepositions and verb tenses and some scriptural passages.

Cyclone of Laughter,
Torrent of Words And Wonderful Feeling

Aimee Semple McPherson Hutton prints testimonials from her "famous Christians"--religious whales whom she has landed--and all of them "knew" they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit because they "fell under the power and spoke with other tongues according to Acts 2:4." For instance, she prints a pamphlet, "Some Things I Learned While Seeking The Baptism of the Holy Ghost," by "Dr. Chas. A. Shreve, pastor of McKendree Methodist Church, Washington, D. C." (Mrs. McPherson actually claims to have had a vision in which the Lord told her that it was time for her to quit "fishing for minnows and begin fishing for whales.) The "big Methodist Doctor" was one of her prize "whales." Having such "big" ones as he, numbered among her "converts," has profoundly convinced "Sister Aimee" of the truthfulness of Jude's statement as to "having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." - Jude 16. To be perfectly fair and impartial, however, as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ are commanded (1 Tim. 5:20-21) I should state that all of organized Christendom is smart in this respect--"having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." For it will not be denied by spiritual Christians that the spirit that deems human organization and human names necessary in the work of the Lord is the same spirit that supposes "gain is godliness." - 1 Tim. 6:5. But who, today, believes that there is power, real and practical power, in Godliness?

Listen to Shreve tell of his seeking for power.

It took longer than I expected. I first began to present myself to the Lord as a candidate for His baptism at a meeting held by Mrs. McPherson at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore some time in December, but it was not until the twenty-seventh of March that I entered into this experience. Just exactly why I had to wait the three months, I do not know . . . Suddenly I began to laugh, and in a moment I was in the most tremendous gale of laughter that I had ever experienced in all my life . . . It swept my entire being as though I was in the midst of a cyclone and I had the clearest consciousness that this was caused by some power in my inner-most being. Wave after wave rolled through my soul, and for one solid hour these heavenly winds continued to blow . . . We knelt in prayer but this tremendous laughter continued at such a rate that instead of praying everyone seemed to catch the spirit and join in laughter. Especially was this true of the Filipino young man, Joe Elliott, who, under the great storm of holy joy, shook from head to foot as though he would be almost torn to pieces. In the midst of this I fell to the floor as though struck by invisible lightning . . . Then a great quietness came over me and for the next hour I lay under the mighty hand of God . . . I felt that the floor was the exact place for me at that particular time . . . There began to come forth from my inner-most being the most peculiar words that I had ever heard in all my life. . . . It seemed there was flowing from me a torrent of these wonderful words which were utterly new and strange to me. (How did he know they were "wonderful," then? - M.M.J.) This continued for another hour or until seven o'clock in the morning . . . I rose up . . . with a wonderful feeling that the Holy Ghost had come to me in a way that I had never known before...

"Whose God Is Their Belly"

Did you notice that McCrossan was "sure" his seeing colored lightning and tongues of fire directly from God because of his senses? He said: "Did any outsider need to tell us that the Holy Spirit had entered our life in a new way? No, indeed." So also was Shreve gloriously confident that his having to laugh for hours, fall on the floor and lie quietly for over an hour and then speak in torrents of strange words--he was certain that all of this was of God for the one reason that he frankly gave "a wonderful feeling that the Holy Ghost had come to me in a way that I had never known before." Now, of course, these and other "tongues" people will be quick to add some such claims as this, "Oh yes, brother, but I got the baptism and spoke in tongues according to Acts 2." But when an honest inquirer asks them to turn from their own "wonderful experiences" to the plain, unforced "Thus saith the Lord" he finds that "their God is their belly." (See Phil 3:19 and Rom. 16:17, 18.) The word belly, is used to describe the natural senses or the soulish man.

Must Gentile Believers Tarry For The Holy Spirit?

But let us look at Acts, the second chapter. There are some similarities between the "Pentecostalists'" experiences and those given in scripture but the God-fearing soul is not satisfied with "some similarities" in the things of God. He wants identities. And, indeed, these modern imitators have only a seeming similarity to the Heaven sent blessings recorded in the early days of the church. I refer to the physical miracles. For instance, today we are told to "tarry like they did at Jerusalem" when the fact is that "they," and only they, were told to "tarry in Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high." - Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8. The most humble and yielded believers in Christ back there before that Pentecost were forced to wait until God's time for keeping His promise to His Son--the promise that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ would be given the Holy Spirit. - John 7:37-39; 14:16, 17, 26; Acts 1:5; 2:32-33. There is no hint in the Bible that a Gentile believer in the Lord Jesus ever had to tarry a second after regeneration in order to receive the Holy Spirit and be baptized with the Holy Spirit into the body (the church which is Christ's body). - Acts 10:43-46; 1 Cor. 12:12-13.

They tell us that the one hundred and twenty conducted a ten days' tarrying meeting in the upper room at Jerusalem, pleading with God to give them the Holy Ghost. The fact is that only the disciples went to an upper room (doubtless for their living quarters) but spent their days in the temple, "continually in the temple, praising and blessing God." - Luke 24:53. They would have been rank infidels if they had prayed and moaned and groaned and howled and begged the Lord to do what He had positively declared He would do "not many days hence." - Acts 1:4-8; Luke 24, 48, 49; John 16:7. Now note this carefully, there is not one instance in the entire "New Testament" where an individual believer in Christ ever prayed that he or she might be baptized with or might receive the Holy Spirit. Acting in the very stead of Christ, with their apostolic power and authority, the apostles did thus pray for and lay hands upon Jewish and Samaritan believers but never upon Gentile believers.

Weak and Ignorant Imitations

"Pentecostalists" tell us that their long, kneeling "tarrying meetings" are according to the book of Acts. The fact is that "when the day of Pentecost was fully come (not when some of the folks had "gotten through") they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven (not from the people) as of a rushing mighty wind (not like a herd of hungry cattle), and it filled all the house where they were sitting (not lying down in hypnotic, paralyzed or demon possessed condition). And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire (There was no fire. Instead of appearing as a dove as He had done when coming upon the Lord Jesus, here the Holy Spirit appears in the form of "cloven tongues like as of fire.") The baptism with fire that John the Baptist spoke of is to take place when Christ returns "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Thes. 1:7-10. In other words, no believer in Christ has, or ever will be "baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire." The fire is only for the Christ-rejecter.

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." - Acts 2:4. Please note very carefully that the miraculous sign here was that the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting Jews could understand every word without an interpreter. But with Christians it was always necessary to have someone present who had "the gift of interpretation of tongues" because tongues were not intended as signs except to unsaved Israel. - 1 Cor. 14:18-24. It should also be noted that the messages given in tongues were concerning "the wonderful works of God." - Acts 2:11.

Spirit-Filled Christians Now Have No "Tongues"

Before giving a brief and quite condensed Bible outline of the subject in question, I should like to state that I verily believe many dear children of God have had spiritual joys and times of rejoicing the were "joy unspeakable and full of glory." And doubtless many have had experiences that seemed to be miraculous overflows of spiritual emotion and power. God grant that we all may be thus frequently lost to ourselves and overpowered with a consciousness of the presence of God, "filled with all the fullness of God." There is no value, however, in seeking to identify these good and beautiful experiences with speaking with tongues referred to in God's Word.

The Holy Spirit Was Promised To All Believers In Christ

  • As described in John 7:37-39, John 14:17, Gal. 3:1-5, Acts 10:44, Acts 11:15-17 and Acts 15:8-9, the Holy Spirit came upon the Jewish believers at Pentecost in answer to Christ's prayer. (Since no one took advantage of Christ's offer in Luke 11:13, we hear Christ later announcing that He will pray for the Spirit to be given all believers.) - John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:32-33.
  • The Apostles prayed that the Samaritans "might receive the Holy Ghost" because the Samaritans had been outcasts and strangers to the promises through they had once been Jewish in religion. - John 4:9, 19-20, 25; Matt. 10:5-9; Acts 8:14-17.
  • All Gentile believers are saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit at the same time. - Acts 10:44-47; 11:15-18; 15:7-11; Gal. 3:1-9; 4:6; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19-20; 12:13; Rom. 5:6; 8:9 14-16; Eph. 4:30.
  • The twelve disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus had been baptized only with John's Jewish baptism in preparation for the coming Kingdom. They were not Christians, having never believed on Christ though they had believed on John. - Acts 19:1-8.

Speaking In Tongues Always Related to Israel

But Paul said: "I thank God I speak with tongues more than you all!"

Yes, and Paul told us exactly where and why he spoke with tongues at that time. It was in fulfillment of the Jewish prophecy concerning how God was going to deal with unbelieving Israel, "this people." - Isa 28:9-12; 1 Cor. 14:18-22.

Speaking in tongues was a sign to unbelieving Jews and is never found after God breaks off the last of "the natural olive branches (Israel)." "The Jews require a sign," God promised to give the sign of tongues, and Paul said, speaking with tongues was not for the church but was a sign for unbelievers in fulfillment of God's promise in "the law," - Isa. 28:9-12; 1 Cor. 1:22; 14:18-22.

Every Bible instance of "speaking in tongues" is in connection with doubting or unbelieving Jews. - Acts 2:4-7; 10:44-46; 19:3-8.

"Perfect" Believers Have No Physical Types and Signs

"Whether there be tongues, they shall cease . . . When that which is perfect is come." - 1 Cor. 13:8-10. As soon as Paul was inspired to give Christians the revelation of their completeness in Christ (Col. 2:10-12) and the fact that God had temporarily ceased to deal with the Jewish nation, all believers were told that they were perfect in Christ and were neither "Jews nor Gentiles" but citizens of heaven. Thus, "that which is perfect" had come and tongues ceased. So also did all the "signs and wonders following." - 1 Cor. 2:6-6 (3:1-4); Phil. 3:3, 15; Rom. 11:25; Acts 28:28; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17.

Paul's letter to the over-grown "babies" at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11-12; 3:1-4) is the last, and only, epistle where speaking in tongues is found. And, indeed, "tongues and stammering lips" was religious "baby talk" that God used dealing with unbelieving Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem. - Isa. 28:9-13; 1 Cor. 14:18-22; 13:8-11; 9:19-22.

Note the clear change from Acts 2:4 to Eph. 5:17-19. In the light of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 what use has the church now for "tongues"?
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