A Question I Was Asked:

Should the Church Seek "Tongues-Speaking" in our Own Day?

Is the speaking of tongues,and other spiritual gifts for the church today, and if so how can they be useful to the church body?

UK Apologetics Reply:

No, tongues were given for a sign for the first Christians when God made it clear that the Gospel would go to many people of other tongues, having a wide application beyond just the Jews, or descendants of Israel. 'Tongues' indicated that there would be no impediments in spreading the message beyond national frontiers. Today hopefully we all understand that point. It was a sign and gift for another age, an age in which people spoke their 'mother tongue' but only very rarely any other language, with no recourse to interpreters or translators. In a sense it overturned what happened at the tower of Babel, showing that the Gospel would now have free reign for all peoples. 'Tongues' really had the same message as the vision which Peter received in Acts 10: the gospel is open to all people of all nations.

We must remember that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15) was an instruction to go to the entire world with the Gospel message; the disciples might have reasonably asked, 'but how will people understand our tongue in other nations?' - this was taken care of in the gift of tongues! The very first missionaries sometimes saw this incredible gift in action; unfortunately, the very earliest tracts, books and booklets written by these people have now all but disappeared so we can no longer learn of their first experiences when they observed this miracle. Today we don't see it because that age has now passed and we just have to accept that. In our day the gift of translation is freely available.

Now understanding all of the above, what possible reason could there be to seek 'the gift of tongues' in 2018? Frequently it is some sort of spiritual vanity, the belief that a "tongues speaker" is more holy than other Christians, the misguided and unbiblical belief that a believer has not 'broken through' until 'getting tongues,' this idea coming from the older Pentecostals. Others boast of 'praying in tongues.' What is this? I have no idea and I will not condemn but I view it with a little suspicion. Surely if we are going to pray we would want to do it effectively and to keep firm control of our minds and speech - especially in the environment of group prayers, there should no no suspicion of any self-centred approach; also, don't forget that tongues speaking has also been a phenomenon in other religions. Hmmm!

Gifts in General...

God alone grants gifts but we have to understand them, dramatic healings, for example, were among the 'signs of the Apostles,' but were never given to every single believer. See this: The Signs of the Apostles

Most Modern "Healing" Ministries = Yuk!!

Today's cavalcade of high-profile "healing ministries" are very often quite scandalous in their arrogance and refusal to be corrected by Scripture. It is obnoxious when arrogant men (and sometimes women), uncalled and unappointed by God, stand up and tell hundreds of sincere people things like, "tonight God will heal every single one of you, but only if you have sufficient faith." Very soon the 'collections' are taken up, people are - often quite subtly - encouraged to believe that if they 'donate' generously, then they must be faithful and can expect healing from God. I say right here and now that much of this is a sham and a disgrace; a circus carried out by uncalled charlatans who want to make a name for themselves. A few such ministries become notably wealthy but will surely be accountable to God. Of course, their 'get-out' clause is always the same 'if you were not healed, you did not have enough faith,' and they freely use this without showing much shame.

Gifts Today? Yes, But Our God Keeps Control!

We should all be wary of fraudulent claimed "gifts" of a spectacular nature, but God has indeed given gifts of ministry right through the Christian age and He goes on doing so; these are such gifts as powerful and persuasive preaching (called 'to prophesy' by Paul), and such things as kindness, hospitality, an eagerness to spread the Gospel, patience, teaching children, music, empathy to sinners, an unusually strong Christian discernment and so on. But if anybody decides they want a particular 'gift' and starts demanding it from God, I can tell you right now that He will not give that one to you - show humility! More likely, He has already granted you that gift which you most need in your particular situation.

Robin A. Brace. April 4th-12th, 2018.