Dear Brethren,

The Charismatic Movement

The Charismatic Movement has popularised tongue speaking in many Churches. The Mega Churches in Singapore are all Charismatic Churches.  The Charismatic movement is the catalyst of the Ecumenical Movement which is bringing the Protestant Churches back to the Roman Catholic Church and then finally uniting all the religions of the world together. We need to have the right biblical understanding of the gift of tongues, the biblical definition of “tongues” and its purpose and finally its cessation in order to know the errors of the Charismatic Movement.

Our Church follows the biblical teaching to be separated from the Charismatic Movement (2 Cor 6:14-18) and to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3) by preaching the Truth of God’s Word and exposing the errors of the Charismatic Movement. At the same time, let us show love to the Charismatic Christians to lead them to the Truth of God’s Word for true biblical love rejoices not in iniquity but in the truth.

Tongues is a Gift from the Holy Spirit

The Charismatic Movement teaches that all Christians must have this gift of tongue to manifest their spirituality and one can go through speech training in order to exercise this gift. Self-induced and self-taught tongues are not biblical tongues. The Bible teaches very clearly that the Holy Spirit is the One who enables a person to speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:4, 8-10) and not by our own effort. The Holy Spirit decides which gifts a Christian should have (1 Cor 12:11). Hence, not everyone will have the gift of tongues.

Tongue Speaking is Foreign Language Speaking

The Greek word for tongues is “Glossai’ which means “language”. The Bible is very clear that when one speaks in Tongues, it is not ecstatic utterances but rather speaking in a foreign language. The first instance of tongue speaking was at Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. The Apostles spoke “with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4). These other tongues were in fact the foreign language or ethnic dialect of those people who were gathered at Jerusalem (v.9-11). The Bible tells us clearly in verse 11b that these people “hear them (Apostles) speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God”. Hence, tongue speaking is not ecstatic speech or gibberish. The gift of tongues is the gift of languages. The Apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in foreign languages they had not previously learned.

The Charismatic Movement would like to quote 1 Corinthians 13:1 that their ecstatic tongues are in fact angelic tongues. However, whenever angels spoke as recorded in the Bible, it is always in human languages. The context of 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 shows us that Apostle Paul was using hyperbolic speech. Paul was saying even if he can speak in angelic tongues, or understand all mysteries, or has all knowledge, or all faith, but does not have love, it is nothing.

Tongues is a Sign-Gift

1 Corinthians 14: 22 states “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” The context of the passage is based on Isaiah 28 that it was a word of judgment against the unbelieving Jews. Therefore, tongues was a sign to unbelieving Jews who thought they were the only people to whom God extended salvation. The Apostle Peter was commanded to minister to Cornelius, a Gentile and an unclean person in the eyes of the Jews. When Cornelius and other Gentiles believed the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says that “because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” (Acts 10: 45-46). When Peter reported this incident to the Jerusalem Council, they responded in Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Here is the purpose of the gift of tongues – a sign to the unbelieving Jews. After Acts 11, there is really no need to convince the Jews that the Gospel is to be given to the Gentiles. If tongue as a sign-gift has accomplished its purpose, then naturally God will withdraw this gift from His people.

Have Tongues Ceased?

1 Corinthians 13: 8 states that “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”

The Bible tells us that revelatory gifts such as prophecy, tongues and knowledge will cease. The words “fail” and “vanish away” are the same word in Greek “katargeo” which means “to destroy” and it indicates that there will be an outside agent to cause it to cease. This outside agent is the “perfect thing” (v.9-10) which is the completion of the 66 Books of the Bible. For tongues, the word “cease” in Greek “pauo” is used which means “to stop” and it indicates the gift of tongue will cease by itself. Once the purpose of tongue has been fulfilled, then it will naturally cease as a gift.

Church history confirmed it in the 4th century writing of the Church Father Augustine that the gift of tongues has passed away by then. The greatest revival of the Church since Pentecost which is the 16th century Protestant Reformation was not characterized by tongue-speaking but powerful preaching of the Word of God. The Reformers Luther, Calvin and Knox etc did not speak in tongues at all.

The sign gifts such as tongues are temporary gifts and the Church should not pursue them. Christians should rather seek after the three Christian graces of faith, hope and love which will remain through the Church age. There is a clear distinction of the Biblical tongues as taught in the Bible and the Charismatic tongues of today which is one of confusion, ecstatic utterances and man-centredness. From the light of Scriptures, the tongues of the Charismatic Movement is definitely not from the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues has ceased.

Elder John Leong