Just before Christ left this same world, he left his current and would-be followers a couple of promises: one of them is: “and these SIGNS shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with NEW tongues” Mark 16:17. Note the words “SIGNS’’ and “NEW’’.
36. And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,—Judges 6:36-40
37. Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Firstly, what is a SIGN?
The man, Gideon sure needed a sign! (Judges 6: 36-40). When God tells you to go face a sovereign nation’s military with only 300 men, you need to be very certain God is the one commissioning you. Before he would go into battle, he asked for a ‘’humanly impossible’’ feat: that there should be dew on the fleece (sheep wool) but the floor roundabout should be dry, after that, he asked that the fleece should be dry but dew should be on the floor around. And God did it exactly! Now, that’s a sign.
We can then draw our definition of what a sign is from the example above: “A feat, seen and acknowledged to be humanly impossible but divinely possible“. We may now place this understanding on Jesus’ statement. What makes a Tongue/Language become a Sign, is the fact that the speaker is humanly and originally incapable of such Tongue or Language—only achievable by divinity.
Christ’s words were fulfilled first in Acts 2 when the Apostles spoke in other tongues such that unbelievers heard them in their own languages. What ensued? They said “are these men not Galileans, How hear we them in our own languages where we are from?’’ (Acts 2:7-8)
17. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;Mark 16:17
Now that’s exactly what Mark 16:17 promised.
Many years after, let’s fast forward to 1906—at which time, the Mark 16:17 promise was grossly lacking in the church. The orthodox churches had concluded it wasn’t pertinent to their generation claiming that it stopped with the Apostles. This erroneous conclusion permeated mainstream Christianity at that time. However, God who wouldn’t leave Himself without a witness stirred up a group of people led by William Seymour, these folks had two options:
- Create a strange fire and start learning to speak in tongues to disprove the orthodox theory of cessation.
- Cry out to God, and hold him to his promises, and expect to experience the Real Fire.
These unsatisfied, hungry Christians chose option 2. They didn’t judge God’s ability by the current prevalent reality.
Even though God inspired the move, (as no man can do nothing except what has been appointed him of the Lord), they weren’t satisfied with a historical God! They ventured to seek God, crying relentlessly: Lord, where are these SIGNS you promised?
And as God always does to a soul that “diligently” seeks him, at Azusa street in California, He honored this persistent plea and poured these Signs out. Amongst many unique incidents during this move, we read of a native English woman who lost control of her tongue and spoke Spanish for 2 weeks before she gained control back. Now, that sure catches one’s attention, just as “a burning bush that was not consumed’’ got Moses’ attention. Again, that is a SIGN and that is exactly what Mark 16:17 meant! This move marked the beginning of Pentecostalism.
Not many years passed by, modern Pentecostals were faced with a similar dilemma as their founding fathers. They had also lost the real thing! Rather than do what their early Pentecostal fathers did, to cry out to God for these signs, they opted for the “Nadab and Abihu” Model.
The Nadab and Abihu Model
Most professing Christians casually read what Nadab & Abihu did in Lev 10:1 and quickly pass judgment. Their offense when read, was they had introduced a “strange fire”. What was this “strange fire”? Wasn’t it also ‘a fire’? Doesn’t God simply require a fire? See Lev 9:24.
Usually, it was God’s prerogative to release fire from above on sacrifices offered on the altar—to burn it. Just as he did in Lev 9:24, 1 Kings 18:38 and 2 Chronicles 7:1. This was God’s response to sacrifices and this signifies acceptance. So, if a supernatural fire didn’t ignite the sacrifice, God didn’t accept the offering.
Nadab and Abihu didn’t see a need for that ‘’fire from heaven’’, they simply took their own fire from their censers and ignited the sacrifice. God confirmed to them that He could send supernatural fire—He sent supernatural fire to consume them.
Now, that’s exactly what modern Pentecostalism has done—still doing with the sign of speaking with tongues. Rather than seek God and wait for the real gift and true fire, they have created their own ‘’strange fire’’, and now peddle it as “Praying in the Spirit”.
Let’s look at the commonly proposed bible verses: 1 Corinthians 14. A careful read of the whole chapter is advised—however, I’ll hit few key highlights.
- When Paul spoke here, he spoke of ‘’Languages”, not ‘Jabberings’’.
Read 1 Corin 14:10 NIV.‘’Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.’’For illustration purpose, if an illiterate from a village in Nigeria gets inspired by the Spirit to speak in French or Spanish, that would catch everyone’s attention and it would be evidently divine! Now, that’s a Sign that could catch an unbeliever’s attention as said in 1 Corin 14:22. “Wherefore, Tongues are for a sign….“
- Speaking in Tongues is a Spiritual gift. 1 Corin 14:12 states this. “Even though ye are zealous of Spiritual gifts….”. Also, we find it recorded as one of the 9 spiritual gifts in 1 Corin 12:10. Here, it is clearly inferred to be given to “SOME”, not “ALL“. Each member having its own gifts of the Lord. If it’s a ‘’Spiritual Gift’’, that then eliminates any place of conscious efforts or fleshly practice or training as it’s commonly practiced today.
- Verse 13: “Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown Tongue pray that he may interpret”. If he is just speaking meaningless words, what need is there for prayer to interpret?
With the points made, consider now the order set by the bible, IN THE CHURCHES OF THE SAINTS, not in all churches. I couldn’t say this better than the sacred word had:
26. What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.—1 Corinthians 14:26-28 NIV
27. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time and someone must interpret.
28. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.”
TONGUES – AN EXCLUSIVE PROOF OF THE HOLY GHOST
In a number of cases when believers received the Holy Ghost, they immediately spoke in other tongues as referenced in Acts 19:6, Acts 2:4, there are, however, other cases where early believers received the Holy Spirit and never muttered a tongue (Acts 8:17). Today, people are accustomed to often generalizing a one-time manifestation of God hence, making an idol of such a concept.
The first time the Spirit descended, there were cloven tongues of Fire. None of the apostles insisted on seeing “cloven tongues” as proof every time the Holy Ghost fell subsequently. The Apostles knew better! Today, people erroneously restrict the evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost to speaking in tongues consciously, even when the fruits of the Holy spirit are lacking in a person. This is an error! Samson did not become dependent on the Jawbone of an ass because God had given one victory through the Jawbone. It was discarded! There is however one singular, most assuring evidence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling: ‘’By their fruits…—what fruit? The fruits of the Spirit—ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:15). The Holy Spirit helps you agree unreservedly with every word of God, cause its author (2 Peter 1:21) now dwells in you.